any designer can begin a new project he or she first needs
to understand exactly what it is that will be designed,
where it will be used and who the target audience for that
design is. in my experience, I have found that a phone call
to the client (where practical) is the most efficient means
of accomplishing this needs assessment. during this phone
call, I am specifically looking to find:
format will the design take? (black & white, full color,
will it be used? (print media, video, fax/e-mail transmission,
is the likely target audience? (age, sex, income, etc.)
You may also
find that this is an excellent opportunity to "cross-sell"
your client on other services you may offer. for example,
a client looking for a faxable version of his logo may
not realize that you can also transform that logo into
a 3d model capable of being used in sales videos, brochure
advertising, etc. I try not to push these services,
just put the idea in the client's head that these services
are available, either now -- or later, down the road.
you might be suprised at how much repeat business you
can get from this approach.
...Also don't be afraid to try and upgrade your client
into higher quality output. for example, I have an excellent
source for full color business cards (@ $75.00 per 1,000
cards). a client might not be aware that for just a
few dollars more than the 2-color cards they were looking
for, they can receive a much better final product.
I feel that I have a firm understanding of the scope of
the project, I generally lay out a proposed timetable and
discuss fees with my client. I normally like to work hourly,
but I am sensitive to a client's concerns regarding this
issue. if I sense hesitancy on my client's part, I will
either offer to cap the price at a reasonable level, or
when pressed will quote a flat rate -- trying to take into
account the size and scope of the entire project project.
For example, I might lower my normal pricing on logo design
when I know upfront that I will also be laying out business
cards and letterhead. Pricing is always a very sensitive
issue and one must balance the hope for repeat business
with the reality that at too low a price a project that
drags on and on with multiple revisions might just not be
profitable. Once all of the preliminary details have been
dispensed with, it is time to begin putting pen/pencil to
paper... Yes, I like to sketch out several designs before
I start creating images on the PC. The beauty of this is
that I'm able to record the ideas/inspirations as the occur,
rather than waiting for a time when I'm behind the keyboard.
Now begins the collaborative part of the project; that part
of the project where the Designer and Client must work together
to bring about the final design.