At the start of a project, it is important to know what to know what you expect to gather as much information as possible. This will often occur before you have landed the job, as it is necessary to have a meeting to help determine the cost and timeframe of the project. Once you have answered some or all of the research questions below, you will be provided with an accurate estimate in your proposal, as well as have a solid understanding of what you are looking for.
Who is the target audience?
We always find out who you are designing for. This will have a great impact on the style, content and message of the project. For example, a postcard aimed at new customers will be completely different from one aimed at existing customers. Some variables that can impact design include:
What is the message?
We always find out what message your client is trying to get across to the target audience. The overall message can be something as simple as thanking customers or announcing a new product. Once that is established, go beyond it to find out the “mood” of the piece. Is it excitement? Sadness? Compassion? Gather some keywords that will help with the overall style of your design. If you are in a meeting with a group of people, consider asking each person to come up with a few words that they think describe the mood of the message, and brainstorm from there.
What are the specs of the project?
You may already have an idea of specifications for a design, which is helpful for determining the time involved in the project, and therefore the cost. For example, a 12-page brochure will take much longer than a 4-page foldout. If the client doesn’t know exactly what they are looking for, now is the time to make some recommendations and to try to finalize these specs. The amount of content to present, budget, and final use of the design may all affect these decisions. Determine:
What is the budget?
In many cases, you will not know or disclose their budget for a project. They may either have no idea what a design should cost, or they may want you to say a number first. Regardless, it is usually a good idea to ask. If you have a specific budget in mind and tells you, it can help to determine the scope of the project and your final cost. This is not to say you should do the project for whatever the client says they can pay. Instead, you may alter some parameters (such as timeframe or the amount of design options you provide) to fit within the budget.
Is there a specific deadline?
We always find out if the project needs to be done by a specific date. The job may coincide with a product launch, or another important milestone, for you. If there is not a deadline, we will create a timeframe for completing the project and present it to you. Can you provide creative direction?
Whenever possible, it is helpful to get at least a little creative direction from you. Of course, we will be creativing something new and unique for you, but some ideas will help us get started. We’ll ask if there are any designs, design elements or other cues you can give us, such as: