How to start a design project?

These and 6 other frequently asked questions (FAQ) are of great interest to our customers and clients.

1. -> What are the design costs?
2. -> Design rights – who owns the design?
3. -> What risks does the designer bear?
4. -> How can the quality of the design performance be measured?
5. -> For whom does a design agency work?
6. -> How does a design project work?
7. How do I start a design project?

How To Start a Design Project | WILDDESIGN

This is the first in a series of articles to help you with some often confusing design situations. In this series, we will answer some important design-related questions in hopes of alleviating common issues that come up between designers, their customers and clients.

How do I start a design project?
Getting started with anything is difficult, and selecting a design service that is a good fit for your company can be particularly challenging. Questions about timing, cost, brand development and how much independence the design team should have are a few potential issues. All of this adds up to designers often being consulted too late in the process, and this is the wrong approach to take for a host of reasons, most notably that your designers will be less motivated and have less time to ferment ideas for the project.

The new motto: as soon as possible
It is essential to have an informal talk with the designers as soon as you can. Do not be afraid of discussing or suggesting something that you might ultimately not be able to use – nothing is useless. Instead, talk openly about your goals and expectations and your design team will suggest the best ways to proceed. There’s no need, however, to be rash; details and particulars can be worked out later.

Not without a briefing
Traditionally, a design project begins with a briefing, a concise (anywhere from 1 to 10 pages) description of the main objectives and aspects of the project.  Unfortunately, good and effective briefings are a rare fruit, as it can be difficult to really get everyone on the same page in a short time frame. A good and clear description of the project is crucial, as is a free initial consultation, in which you can go through the design determinants with representatives from the design team – if you do this, the briefing materials will be much easier to understand.

The offer as a basis
After a detailed briefing, the design team will be able to provide you with a firm and coherent offer to help you make an informed choice. Ensure that all outstanding issues are addressed in the offer and resolved before the decision is made. The longer a designer and customer have had a relationship, the simpler the briefing and offer process becomes, so always remember that it will get easier. This is one of the reasons why design partnerships often last for many years.

The Pitch
Before you can make an informed decision and develop this sort of long-term loyalty, however, it may be advisable to assign the exact same task to two or more agencies. Their proposals are essentially full pitches, rather than just ideas or project concepts. Though this method costs a bit more initially, it acts as an insurance policy for the project. Also, as designers, we are always ready to face a fair challenge – do not hesitate to ask us! It all begins with the first contact – and it’s best to do it sooner rather than later.

 Written by Markus Wild


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Markus writes about design- and innovation management, creativity methods, medical design and intercultural branding. More about...

Originally written by Markus Wild, 26. May 2016. Last updated 23. April 2023


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