There is a quote by Hans Hoffman that states: “design is the intermediary between information and understanding.” Truer words have never been spoken in regards to defining the relationship between client and designer.
Design is tricky, and let’s not forget — subjective. What one client loves, the other may hate. That’s just the nature of the game in design. However, you (as the client) can set yourself for calculated success by being vocal and asking questions from the outset. To best ensure the design company you hired fulfills your requirements and wishes, you need to clarify that all your bases are covered.
In an effort to try and help reduce design nightmares, we’ve identified six questions that we recommend asking your new design company before kicking off a project.
1. How Does Your Creative Process Work?
This question will tell you A LOT — and hopefully, you’ve already asked this question when interviewing different design agencies — but knowing the answer to this will help you sleep at night. The relationship between you and your design company needs to be transparent, and both parties need to feel comfortable with each other to be a successful partnership.
Knowing how the design company:
Plans a project
Prioritizes a project
Maintains a timeline
Keeps client goals at the forefront
Communicates back to clients
And more… Knowing how a design company carries out a project from A to Z will better your experience as a client, and reduce the risk of miscommunications. So be thorough, and be satisfied with the answer to how your new design company is going to handle the creative process for your project.
2. What Are My Goals and How Are You Going to Achieve Them?
Like any relationship, communication is key. You need to make sure your non-negotiables are clear from the start. To have a positive experience with a design company, your goals need to be written out so there is no excuse for not knowing what was expected. Secondly, you want to hear the gameplan from the designers. How do they plan to make your goals a reality? It’s easy to say you’re going to make something happen, but it’s another to back it up with a step-by-step plan that proves positive action.
3. When Was a Time a Client Didn’t Like Your Work and How Was That Remedied?
It’s not always going to be the case that you LOVE the designs you receive back from your hired agency. Therefore, it is important to brace for that possibility. Be sure to ask about the company’s past experiences with dissatisfied customers.
Why did the client feel like the drafts came up short?
How did you adjust the project to better meet the desires of the client?
How quickly was the turnaround?
What was the client’s reaction the second time around?
What did your team learn from that experience?
Design work takes ebbing and flowing, so it is unfair to assume even the best designers are going to nail a project without edits, but it is important to hear that the design company makes mistakes and works quickly to meet the right vision of the client.
4. How Can Our Timelines Work Together?
You have a timeline you’re operating on, and so does the design company. Intertwining realistic timelines is important to properly manage your project. Nothing is more frustrating than expecting deliverables on a certain date and not receiving them. Therefore, in your project kickoff meeting, you should discuss a timeline that can be agreed upon by both parties to eliminate future confusion.
5. What Do You Need From Us to Make This a Successful Partnership?
Business takes two to tango. The success of the project also depends on you as the client. Due to you being a variable, it is important to ask and understand what is needed from you to allow the project to start and finish in a timely, smooth manner.
What do you need from our side to start this project?
How can we better define our vision?
Do you have any lingering questions regarding what we are looking for?
6. Who is the Point of Contact and How Do Revisions Work?
This is probably the second most important question in this deck behind, “how does your creative process work?” Knowing who your point of contact is with the design agency is imperative to understanding the status of the project, in addition to relaying vital information to their team. Finally, ask this question before you get to the point of revisions (you’ll avoid an awkward conversation), but make clear how the editing process works.
Do you charge extra for multiple revisions?
What is the turnaround time?
How do you want us to give our feedback?
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