15 Essential Questions To Ask Before You Start A Design Project

design project

Graphic design is an indispensable part of marketing. You need designs everywhere. To set the identity of your brand through logos, create brand awareness through ads, and strengthen customer relationships through social media posts. So, every now and then you will find yourself tackling a graphic design project. 

Marketers and business owners have a lot to juggle. In the midst of this, design production for effective brand promotion can be an added stress. That’s why the concept of outsourcing graphic designs has become so much popular these days. 

Is the thought of trusting an external design team with all your design project making you anxious? Let’s change that! When you know the right questions to ask before you begin the collaboration, the process will be smoother than you think. And with this, you will end up saving so much time. While also having access to stunning designs that give your brand a competitive edge. 

Whether you plan to outsource a small portion of the designs required for your brand or the whole of it, asking questions and understanding the process will help you start out confidently. 

Some of these are questions you should ask your designer or the external design team. And some are for you to clarify within your team, through brainstorming sessions with all the stakeholders in your organization. These are questions intended to ensure that you and your design teams are on the same page. And thus get the designs you desire. 

Questions to ask your designer/design team 

1. What are the inputs required?

Whether it is logo design or a social media ad, successful collaboration requires active client participation. Your input in this case will be in the form of details about your brand, the industry, competition, your customers, and other basics. And at the design level, you will have to provide inputs in terms of colors, fonts, and more. 

As you can see, some of these inputs help your design team understand the objectives of the design better. And others help them get a clearer picture of the idea you have planned for the campaign. A creative brief and brand style guide are often the two main inputs that most design teams ask for. We’ll discuss a little more on this a little later in this blog. 

2. What is the turnaround time?

Working without timeframes can complicate an outsourced design project. Turnaround time is the time taken from the design request stage to the design delivery stage. Working with teams that have predictable turnaround times will make it easier for you to plan your content calendar because you know exactly when you will have your designs in your hand. 

Sometimes, the turnaround times vary based on the complexity of the design, the level of input you provide, and the understanding of the designer. So, make it a point to discuss the turnaround time with your designer once you have clearly explained your design requirements. 

3. How many revisions are allowed?

With most design outsourcing jobs, there is a design contract that defines things like the number of revisions allowed. And even the types of changes that can be made. 

There could be a number of factors like missing details in the design brief or communication gaps leading to the design requiring minor to major tweaks. So, you should know if you will be paying extra for these revisions. This is one thing that can add to your design project expenses. 

Is there a solution to this? Of course. Many brands now choose unlimited graphic design services to overcome the challenge of the limited number of revisions. Most unlimited design services allow unlimited revisions. 

4. Will you have access to the design source files? 

Sometimes the team delivers the design as promised. But you only own the finished product and have no access to the source files. This might look like a small problem initially but later when you start using the design in your campaigns, there might be occasions where you might start wishing you had the source files. 

To avoid such hiccups, ask the chosen design team whether you will get the source files once the design is complete. 

When you have the source files, you can do minor tweaks to the design later. For example, if you wish to reuse the design in the future by changing just the text in it, you will be able to do it without having to go back to the design team for revisions. Collaborations, where you own the designs, will be the easiest and the most practical kind to work with. 

5. What is the design workflow? 

Each design company and designer has a different approach when it comes to the design workflow. Even if you find the most talented design team that understands your needs, if the process is not transparent, it becomes difficult to keep track of things. 

Check if the chosen design team has any project management tool that will help you place design requests, track progress, give feedback, and download designs. 

6. Will you be using stock images or designing from scratch? 

Stock elements might be used in some designs. And some are created from scratch. For designs like logos, it is better when the design is fully original. 

Standard logo templates available online might be used by other brands. You do not want your logo to look similar to something that’s already there. But for other designs, it is alright if a few basic stock elements are used. What matters is that the design on the whole still stays original. 

If the design team uses premium stock elements and if you are clear about the usage rights of these elements, then it will be easier to understand how and where to use your designs. 

7. Will you be able to keep up if my requirements increase? 

This question is particularly helpful if you are looking for an external design team that can handle your marketing visuals on an ongoing basis. You never know, depending on how your marketing strategies go, your need for designs might keep increasing. Or sometimes, decreasing. Will the chosen design team be able to back you up whatever the case? 

A team that lets you scale without a hassle will help you build and grow your brand or even explore new markets confident that you always have strong visuals to support the growth. And if there are no design contracts you will know that you can downsize your design requests when required, without a worry. 

8. What kind of designs can the team handle?

When you are choosing a designer or design team for your design project you should understand the scope. Not all graphic designers handle illustration projects. And some designers who design logos and digital designs might not necessarily provide design services for print media. 

The scope of the services is really what the designer or the design team sets. So, you should have the utmost clarity about the scope before you begin the project. This will help you understand your overall budget better. And you will also know right away whether you will need to look for different designers for your brand or whether the same team will be able to handle them all. 

This is another place where many brands might find the diverse range of design services offered by graphic design subscriptions to be a more convenient option to work with. 

Questions to ask within your team for each design project  

If you are an entrepreneur handling the whole thing yourself, these questions assist you to gain more clarity about the need for outsourcing design. And also about the value you gain by making this decision. 

For agencies and brands looking to work with external design teams for a design project, these questions ensure that the marketing and management teams are on the same page. After all, designs are not individual components that get your brand out there. These are going to be add-ons that seamlessly integrate with your existing promotional materials. 

So, here are some questions to ask and discuss with your team before you kick-start your design project.  

9. What kind of designs do we need? 

The most common graphic designs for which brands look for professional design support are:

When you make a list of all the designs you should focus on, you will be able to identify the right designers or teams based on the scope of services they offer. 

10. Why are we outsourcing design?

Is it because you do not have the budget or plan to hire an internal team of designers? Or because there is an additional workload that your internal design team cannot handle? This will help you understand whether one-off assignments delegated to an external designer will solve your problem. Or whether you need a design company that you can trust for your regular design requirements. 

11. What are the goals of the campaign? 

Some brands simply need visuals to add to the existing social media content. And some need visuals that help them build a new style and engage their audience. Some need it to give their brand a whole makeover due to rebranding. So, which of these best describes your case? Goal-oriented designs are the easiest to track. 

12. What kind of visual style will suit our brand? 

This again depends on the goals of the design project. If you need designs to tackle the existing gaps or setbacks in your current marketing strategy, you will need a visual style that is a refreshing new indication of your brand. 

If you are creating designs for a new brand, you should be able to identify the style that best resonates with your target customers. For example, fun and vibrant styles,  and colorful palettes suit a brand that targets the youth. A more sophisticated style and minimalistic designs will be more relevant to a brand in the luxury fashion segment. Letting your designers know your preferred visual styles will make it easier for them to deliver designs that closely reflect your brand identity

13. Do we have our brand style guide ready for the design project?

Whether there is an in-house team for designs or an external team, you cannot ignore the need for a detailed brand style guide. Big brands have them. It is what helps them create designs that look consistent. 

The key to creating designs that look and feel like your brand is having a strong brand style guide. This will be a document that tells what colors, font styles, and tone of messaging will represent your brand most accurately. 

To create a style guide, you should be clear about a few things like:

Based on this, identify the colors that trigger the right emotions that depict your brand based on color psychology. If you already have a logo, your style guide will also include the logo in all possible variations and rules that define how the logo should be incorporated in the design. 

All these details will serve as a reference for your designer. 

14. What are the details we should include in our creative brief?

The kind of details that a design team needs depend on the type of design requested. And also on the existing designs for your brand. If there is a particular problem you wish to address or a campaign that you wish to promote, then these will be the driving factors. Based on these, the type of information your creative brief contains will vary. 

A creative brief is a document that tells your designer about the design project- why you need the design, and how you want it. A few things that creative briefs contain in general are: 

Detailed creative briefs make it possible to create designs that are closer to your expectations. And they help designers better understand your brand and the purpose of the design. 

15. What are our timelines for the design project?

The answer to this will depend on your marketing strategy and your content calendar. For example, if your plan is to post social media images on specific days of the week, then will the chosen design team be able to deliver multiple designs in one week? And that too on time? 

Based on your social media calendar and the turnaround time of your design team, you should time your design requests such that there is sufficient time for revisions if any. When you are clear about this, you will not have to worry about bottlenecks in your marketing workflow. 

Ask the right questions, get the right designs 

These are just a few questions to get your started. The more you understand what happens in the collaboration, the better the whole experience will be. Always remember that a design project benefits from two-way communication. Effective participation of the brand that needs the design and effective understanding of the design objectives by the designers lead to designs that convert. You need both for the design project to be a success. 

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