It’s not just about the design

Recently I completed a series of projects for a customer and the feedback I received was very interesting, and confirmed a number of things I had been saying for some time. In my opinion 50% of my job is completed before I even open a software package – before I start any concepts I need to understand the customer and their needs. Sometimes even they don’t really know what they want so I have to use my many years of experience to coax the information from them. Also it is not just about how good my work is, it is how good a communicator I am and how efficiently I can work to produce the project for the client.

I feel the need… the need for speed!

In the case of this particular client although they were impressed with the quality of the work, it was how I approached the work that they were most amazed with. The previous supplier had all the technical skills in the software as required and their work was generally of a very high standard, but the pace was much, much slower. Both the client and I suspected this was all down to experience – with nearly 20 years of working within in-house studios I am used to having to think quickly and find efficient ways to progress projects without compromising quality.

Who’s in charge?

Another issue I have found when working with a number of talented designers over the years is that they may be adept at producing incredible designs, but they struggle with the project management aspect of a job. Again this is where my experience of in-house studios is vital: in-house teams are under a lot of pressure and have projects thrown at them from many different internal clients. Some of these internal clients will brief late and expect instant turnaround as they believe their project is the most important, so the ability to communicate with all parties and clearly establish the actual priority order is a vitally important skill. When there were conflicts in supposed deadlines that I couldn’t resolve I would always go to the next highest level of management to get their views about which of their staff’s projects should be tackled first, and I frequently found that their view was different to the people briefing me! Other designers I have worked with have simply worked on the basis of ‘firefighting’, i.e working on the project for the person who seems most annoyed, agitated, or who shouts loudest, which in my opinion is a method that will always end in disaster eventually. This again was something that my recent client was impressed with as I was able to effectively communicate with all the internal stakeholders including management to make sure that everyone remained happy, something previous suppliers had struggled with.

I can‘t get no satisfaction…

Developing skills in project management, honing my efficiency of working and developing a open friendly, but always honest communication style has helped me when running my graphic design agency, Pixooma. With more clients to juggle, more priorities to organise and with no higher management to consult I need to make sure that I am able to keep all of my clients happy and well-informed at all times, whilst maintaining high standards of design work. 50% of my time might not be spent on my clients designs, but 100% of the time is spent on making sure they are completely happy which is why we offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee on all projects.

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