The Graphic Design Process in 10 Steps

The graphic design process can be something of a mystery if you haven’t dealt with a designer before.

If you have, it’s useful to know how different design studios operate. So how long does the design process take? How much will it cost? Once we get started on the design, how do you make sure we’re on the right track, and that you’ll get value for money? Whatever your project is, the design and proofing process will be very similar – whether you need a logo, a brochure or an advert.

Graphic Design Process in 10 Steps

Below is the typical graphic design process, applicable to most graphic design jobs:

Let’s discuss your requirements

Our initial contact can be over the phone, by e-mail, via one of our online enquiry forms or face-to-face; no matter how you get in touch, it’s essential that you give us all the information you possibly can about what it is you want to achieve.

If you’re not sure about what design elements will be most appropriate, then a discussion about your business and your clients will help us to focus on what could work best for you. Once we have a good idea of what you need, we can put together a quotation, to include all the elements of design and production.

We’ll give you an estimate

Based on our discussion, we’ll send you an estimate of how much your project will cost to produce. The estimate will include an idea of how much studio time will be required in order to complete the work, as well as (if required) any additional print costs, stock image purchases, commissioned photography and so on. All figures quoted will be subject to VAT.

Any design estimate we give you will be based on our extensive experience of working on similar jobs, and will be as accurate as possible. We will first determine how many hours of studio time will be required to complete the work and then provide an estimate of cost for the work involved. In the case of books, brochures, catalogues and newsletters, we will often work to a mutually agreeable page rate rather than an hourly rate, allowing you to increase or decrease the size of the publication without needing to request a revised design estimate.

Agree a budget

If you’re happy with the figures we outline in our estimate, we can get cracking. If you’re concerned about costs potentially spiralling out of control, don’t be. If the time we spend on your project exceeds the maximum number of hours estimated, we’ll work to a fixed maximum budget which will be a ‘worst case scenario’. This figure would only be increased if the original brief is altered in some way resulting in more studio time being required.

Should we complete the work in less time than estimated, we will only invoice for the time spent on the project. Thus you only pay for the time we actually spend working.

We start designing some visuals

Once you’ve given us the green light, we’ll start to work on some visuals. In the case of a logo, advert, leaflet or similar item, we’ll sketch out a number of ideas, always bearing in mind the target audience, any preconceived visual ideas outlined in the brief and what sort of message the brand needs to convey. After our brainstorming session, we normally end up with a number of ideas which can be worked up into more refined visuals for submission.

If the project is a brochure, newsletter or similar printed item, we’ll work on the layout of a page or spread, integrating your existing corporate graphics and branding, presenting the information in a clear, engaging format. We’ll then prepare these pages for submission to you as proofs.

We submit proofs for your perusal

The visuals we create are submitted by post (colour printouts) or via e-mail (PDF files or JPEGs) for your consideration. If we’ve managed to hit the nail on the head on the first attempt, then great! If not, just let us know which designs (if any) you like, which (if any) you don’t, what changes you would like made to them and so on.

You return the visuals to us with your comments

Once you’ve given as much thought and attention to the proofs as possible, submit them back to us for amendment, refinement or replacement. We’ll take your comments on board and begin work on a second round of proofs.

Repeat steps five and six until satisfied

In the case of a logo, we usually manage to identify a winner within two or three rounds of proofing – and the result is a design with which you are completely satisfied. If not, we’ll continue the proofing and amending process until that point is reached.

In the case of a brochure, newsletter or other printed item, once you’ve approved a layout’s look and feel, we’ll flow in your content, laying out text and imagery in the agreed style.

You approve the artwork for print

Once we’ve completed the proofing stages, we’ll ask you for written or e-mailed approval to proceed to press or to final artwork. Ultimately, the responsibility for proofreading and textual accuracy lies with our clients, which is why the proofing and proofreading stages are vital.

We send finished artwork to you or our printer

Once you have let us know that you’re completely happy with the finished results, we can either send the final press-ready artwork to you or to our printer, depending on your requirements.

An invoice will be submitted for payment after the design process has been completed, after which payment will be required in full (before the print or manufacturing process has begun). By working in this way, our clients know exactly what they will be getting before having to commit any funds.

We manage the print process and arrange delivery

If we’re print managing the project, Tinstar will take care of everything for you. We’ll liaise with our supplier and ensure that the finished result is exactly as expected. We’ll let you know when you can expect delivery, and do our best to make sure the production process goes as smoothly as possible.

Further Information

If you have questions which are not answered above, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01590 679490 and ask for Nick Beresford Davies, Creative Director.

Article by Nick Beresford-Davies, Director of Tinstar Design Ltd

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