Finding the perfect design process, that suits any brief,
can be like finding a pot of gold (it will certainly translate to one).

This little story might sound familiar to you: 
As a student I went through University working on about ten design briefs, over three years, but only one at a time. 

Each project would go something like this:

1. Get the brief (two hours)
I would then get given about two hours to read through it, highlight key indicators to what the end client would
(the examiner) would like to see a solution to.

2. Research (one month)
This stage would take about a month alone. We would all have big A3 files with cuttings from magazines,
images printed from the web, different materials stuck in there ect. All of this 'inspiration' would need to
be annotated to show how it relates to the brief.

3. Ideas (one month)
This stage was usually given another month at least. We would flick back through all of the research that
we'd been gathering and then sketch up an idea from each, perhaps combining two or three pieces to get
the desired effect. Sometimes working up early ideas on the computer, and we'd sit there moving things
around on screen, trying to make it work, but it doesn't work. All of this goes into the A3 file with annotations.

4. Design (one month)
By this point, we would have been expected to pick out the strongest solution to the brief. Another month
would be spent working up all of the materials you've set yourself up to produce. It was straight to the computer
again for this stage, rarely touching a pen or pencil. Moving things about on screen, changing colours, re-sizing
objects for hours trying to get this solution to just work.

5. Artwork / Presentation (three days)
I was never really taught how to artwork a job properly in university, and as such I'd just place it in the piece
of software I was working from and hit save, put it on a USB stick, and print it on the same silk stock from the
same large format printer we had available. Trim it out and stick it onto some foam core. Job done, hand it in,
along with the A3 file.
Total time spent, roughly: three months, three days and two hours

Whilst I knew that in the industry I would have to churn out work a bit quicker, I didn't really think it would
be quite so different, process wise. On average I now have 20 projects running at any single time. The majority
don't have more than a month or two given for the deadline – from the brief being given to the finished product
sitting on the clients desk (or piled up next to it). So finding a design process that fits best for maximum creativity,
high speed work and great project management is going to be a key player for your career.

This is the process we use at Navig8, and I've found it to be that pot of gold:

1. Get the brief (15–20 minuets)
Get the brief, read it, highlight what you find necessary. Read it again.

2. Set up a job sheet and folder, get prices in for anything that may need outsourcing (15 minutes)
An important stage. If you have a good filing system then you're going to save yourself hours of time looking
for things in the future. Do it every time. We use job numbers, and titles that are easy to search for. Within
the folder we have files with sub files, i.e. Administration, Artwork, Concepts and Development, Content
Supplied, Images, PDFs and Website.

3. Ideas (one hour)
One hour? Yes. It sounds a bit extreme, but once I adopted this I've found that my ideas became more creative,
and related to the original brief. I say this because when you work on ideas for too long, they tend to go off route.
So, grab your pen or pencil, do not work on the computer at this stage it will slow you down to a stop. You can
use it for inspiration, along with anything else you fancy, but don't open up your software yet. Get as many ideas
down on paper as you can, don't throw any of them away, no matter how mad.

4. Review your ideas (15–20 minuets)
How ever many of you are working on the same brief, go through your ideas together. This stage will usually filter
them down to about three sketches each to start working up. Sometimes the ideas aren't quite on the mark,
so have a little break and just repeat stage three again.

5. Sketch up chosen routes (30 minuets–one hour)
Don't go to the computer just yet. Sketch up the chosen ideas to a higher standard. It may seem an unnecessary step,
but if it looks right on paper, it will look right if followed on screen and save you a lot of time. You'll have a clearer
picture in your head about sizes, layout and colour. 

6. Develop ideas on the intended media (two hours–three hours)
Work from your sketch. Use the right software / material.

7. Put the best ideas into a presentation (30 minutes–one hour)
Choose the ideas you want to show. We usually choose a safe route, a middle ground option,
and a bonkers idea for a starting ground. PDF it or print. Send to the client and await their response.

8. Work up chosen route (Varies, allow about five hours)
The time scale would depend on the project. Put in all of the content into your design. Check it.
Send for sign off. Allow for revisions to come back. Get sign off

9. Artwork (varies, allow one hour)
Details, details, details. Check everything through and check again. Send to print / or developer.
Total time spent, roughly: ten hours

So, go find your gold.

Subscribe to our newsletter