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Our Graphic Design Process - Part 1: Research and Development

Our Graphic Design Process - Part 1: Research and Development

This is the first in a four part blog series delving into our graphic design process. Our process starts the same regardless of what sort of project we are working on. Then, depending on what the project is, print design, web design or logo design, the process tends to take a different direction for each. This post outlines the important stages before we even hit the computer and describes our research and development process which involves outlining target markets and dealing with objectives and messages. The subsequent parts in this series will be broken down into the following sections:

Part 2 - Website design process

Part 3 - Print design process

Part 4 - Logo design process

To make sure you do not miss out on the next part of ‘Our Graphic Design Process’ you can sign up to receive free updates from the Eightyone Design Blog by email or via RSS. 

Part 1 - Research and Development

I imagine that everyone has a different graphic design process which they use to go about creating their design masterpiece. I don’t think that there is one definitive process, however this will give you an insight into ours.

1. Client Brief

We always ensure a client brief has been filled out or a meeting is held with the client before we commence any work. It is so easy to get carried away and see the project from one particular angle, but it’s always worth checking that this is not only the correct angle but also that it is inline with the clients objectives before you proceed to create anything.

2. Objectives

It’s always good to get the objectives clear in your head, in other words what is the aim of the piece? Is the piece to increase sales, increase subscribers, encourage people join up to a service?

3. Messages

What are the messages that are to be omitted? Are you telling people that this product is cheap? Is it exclusive? Does it have excellent service? These are the messages that should be recieved by the viewer and the design should express these clearly.

Once we’ve established the objectives and messages we pin them up so we can see them clearly when designing, ensuring we don’t go off on a creative tangent (which can be so easily done). 

4. Research 

Research is so important. Who are the target market? Who are the competitors? What is the industry like as a whole? Our research and development is extraordinarily time consuming but extremely beneficial, there would be nothing worse than designing a new logo for a company only to discover it’s too similar to a competitors or creating a campaign and then finding out at the last moment that the style doesn’t suit the market. 

Research is vital and you will reap the rewards of the time spent on it.

5. Sketch

Before we hit the computer we sketch out the idea and create a very rough mock up and get one of us to take a look and justify our ideas. We often create a couple of sketches as there are often several design solutions to a brief. 

If we are ever short of ideas by this stage we hit our inspirational hotspots such as logopond and faveup which usually break the creative barrier and get the juices flowing.

6. Log on

Once the initial concept has been chosen and finalised we then hit the computer and watch the sketches come to life.

One very important factor in the next stage of the design process (regardless of what type of project we are working on) is to allow enough time to take a break from the project. This is normally only a day or so but returning to a project with fresh eyes can identify problematic areas and can help you identify new ideas and approaches.

It is at this point that the graphic design process veers off depending on what design project we are working on. The next part in the series will explore our logo design process.

What is your graphic design process? Do you work a little more freely and design without research or a brief? Have you any stories of where you haven’t done any research or obtained a brief from your client resulting in a problematic project?

Posted by Lu

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Posted on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 10:16 am
Posted In Graphic Design | Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Our Graphic Design Process - Part 1: Research and Development”

  • Its great that you have outlined your working processes, I work in a similar way but sometimes on some projects there just isn’t the time to research or take a step back as much as I’d like, whether this is down to tight deadlines or lack of budget.

    I do find that the better results do come from having longer to research, think, sketch and get your teeth into the project, would you say the same Lucinda?

  • lu says:

    Hi Gareth,

    A lack of time or budget can be frustrating.

    I totally agree, for me the research and sketching part is so important (and where a lot of time goes), it lays a good foundation for the final design. It’s also interesting to see how the design has changed and developed throughout the process from sketches to the final piece.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Lu

  • Steven Young says:

    As a percentage of the total time spent on a typical design project - say logo design, how long would you spend on research.

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