7 principles to follow when trying to design your first project
Finding your first customer may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not the hardest part. This title is reserved to make sure they’ll like your design – and that your collaboration is going well.
But since this is your first project, it can be intimidating. Where do you start? What are you asking from your client? How do you make sure you meet their expectations? And what are you doing to showcase your best possible work?
Overwhelming, isn’t it? Don’t worry: if you follow these seven simple rules, everything will go off without a hitch – and you won’t lose your sanity in the process.
Set a realistic deadline
Obviously, you shouldn’t expect to do a day’s work in a few hours. But since this is your first project, it’s hard to estimate how much time you’ll need.
Doing everything will take a long time because you are still learning the ropes. So think of a deadline and then add several days to it. If you finish early, that’s great. But if you need that extra time, you’ll be glad you have it.
You will probably also need to proactively take time for your project. If you are a student, you can pay someone to write my research paper to focus on it and get rid of distractions, for example. You will probably also need to say “no” to other activities.
Request a design brief
If you didn’t do it right off the bat, do it now. Starting your creative process without a brief is a big no-no.
Request a design brief is the best way to get to know your customer, as well as what they want to achieve through your cooperation. Without a memory, you will have to do a lot of guesswork – but you’re not a psychic, are you?
Here are the seven most essential questions you should ask yourself:
- General company information: who they are and what they do;
- Target market and buyers;
- Deliverables: what files you will need to provide, their dimensions, formats, etc. ;
- How will your work be used: on paper, on social media, in a mobile app, etc. ;
- If there are any branding visual style guidelines to follow or assets to include;
- The desired color scheme, font type and style: ask for design examples;
- What text (slogan, slogan, etc.) your work should contain.
Compile a mind map and mood board
Ideas cannot appear in a vacuum. If you just sit there and stare at a blank sheet of paper or an empty countertop, you will be wasting your time.
What you should do instead is take note of the word associations first – the mind map format works great here. Then open your favorite image search engine and type in those word associations. You can also add design related keywords like “flat” or “vintage”.
Here are some websites you can use for this purpose:
- Google Images;
- Get rid of ;
- Design inspiration.
If you see an image that contains something you like, save it and add it to your moodboard. It can be as easy as putting it in a separate folder on your computer.
Sketch your ideas first
Before opening Photoshop or Illustrator, put your ideas on paper with a pen or pencil. The reason is simple: it will always be faster to jot down an idea with your hand than using a graphic design application. In other words, if you do it on your computer first, you will inevitably lose hours of work.
“But what if I’m not good at drawing?” Your drawing skills don’t matter here – you don’t have to show your sketches to anyone. Think of them as your brainstorming notes.
After you’ve finished brainstorming the sketches, put your sketchbook aside for a while. Then open it and take a new look at your sketches. Choose up to five of them.
Create multiple design proposals
A common mistake made by beginners is to focus on just one design. But if you do, you’ll be asking your customer to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to them. And if they say “no”, you will have to start over.
Instead, create several outlines for your client; they will be your design proposals. However, you don’t need to spend hours looking after every detail – these outlines are only meant to showcase your ideas to the client.
Send these proposals to your client. Ask them to select one or more contours closest to their vision. Only after you get the green light, go ahead and finalize them.
Refine your final designs
Once you are done working on the final versions of your work, don’t be in too much of a hurry to click “Submit.” Instead, close the app and let them do it – at least overnight. This way you can look at them in a new light.
Then reopen the designs and do a final check. Are all elements aligned correctly? Are there any typos? Do you see any other issues or errors that need to be fixed?
Never send a file without first checking it with a fresh look! You are guaranteed to miss something – and it will pass as a lack of attention to your customer.
Know how to present your works
Let’s say you are supposed to create an A3 poster. How will you present your works? Just send an email saying “I’m done, find the .ai files attached”?
This is not the best idea. First of all, your client might not even be able to open an .ai file! To avoid this situation, send images or PDF rather.
Second, it’s all about presentation. Never neglect the use of mockups: they will give your client an idea of what your work can look like in a real environment. You can find mockups for virtually any type of job online.
Third, it’s never a bad idea to place a call with your customer after sending the email. This way you can better gauge their reaction and discuss the changes. And here will be be changes, no matter what.
Here is one last tip. Don’t invest too much in your work. Your customer may not like some of them – or choose a different design rather than the one you prefer. And it will hurt you if you put your soul into doing them.
But it’s an inherent part of the job. After all, your job isn’t to create something you to like. You’re hired to bring your client’s vision to life – and different people have different tastes.