Why does workflow management matter for graphic designers? Isn’t graphic design supposed to be about creative freedom?
The thing is, graphic design is all about interaction with other people, and all graphic designers will be part of a team. It can be a very small team of two: you and your client, but it is still a team nonetheless. However, if you work in an agency, it can be a team of more than twenty people, and managing your teamwork and workflow can be confusing and time-consuming.
This is where graphic design workflow management can help in managing your tasks and communication within your team. When communications are not properly managed, it can lead to missed deadlines, unnecessary revisions, wasted time, and, ultimately, wasted budget.
Workflow management is essential to the work of any graphic designer, but the question is, how can we implement it? Here, we will learn how.
Step-By-Step of Creating a Graphic Design Workflow
A graphic design workflow can be divided into four distinct phases or steps:
- Project definition/ideation
- Development process
- Review and approval process
- Product Launch
Step 1: Project Definition
- Creative brief: the first and most crucial part of any graphic design project is introducing the creative brief. Both the designer(s) and the client should be involved in creating a comprehensive creative brief document to be agreed upon by all parties.
- Kickoff meeting: one internal meeting with your team (if any) and another that involves the client after you’ve agreed on the project specifications described in the creative brief.
- Set objectives: set clear and measurable goals based on the creative brief, and define project milestones to track progress along the way.
- Define roles: if you work in a team, set your team’s structure and define responsibilities.
- Competitive analysis: research the client’s competitors to better understand the industry and evaluate their design approaches.
- Visualize timelines: a workflow management solution like Aproove can help you easily create a visual schedule. This is very important to help your team stay organized and focused
- Collaboration infrastructure: decide on how you will collaborate and communicate, both internally and with your clients. If you use a workflow management solution, the software can also act as a collaboration hub, and approval platform.
- Moodboard: create a mood board as the visual foundation for your ideas. You can easily use your workflow software to share this mood board with your client, to assist in the process.
- Define KPIs: manage your team’s workload and set KPIs to measure the success/failure of the project. This will also help in the approval process.
Step 2: Development
This step is about the creation of the graphic design product and can involve the following tasks:
- Generate and Share Ideas: via brainstorming, collaboration, and other ideation techniques, the finalized idea for the product is developed.
- Collaboration workspace: the development of the product will only be successful when the team smoothly collaborates. Organize daily discussions that discuss milestones and obstacles, and track the team’s progress.
- Deadlines: in this development stage, the team must pay close attention always to deliver quality work within the deadline.
- Status reports: a properly documented project status report is necessary to maintain the transparency and accountability of everyone involved in the project. You would also want to create separate status reports, one for your internal team and one for the client.
- Time tracking: properly track the time it takes to develop the product. Depending on the project, this might also help with billing purposes.
Step 3: Review and Approval
An essential aspect of any graphic design workflow is the approval process, which can get treated as a workflow on its own.
- Internal approval: always get internal approval before passing the deliverable to the client.
- Client approval: create a comprehensive system where clients can easily review, comment, give feedback, and approve the deliverable. Make sure you can easily share the files required in the approval process, and invest in the right file sharing solution if necessary.
- Manage revision cycles: prolonged approval process can be counterproductive for both the client and designer. If necessary, limit the number of revisions.
- Managing client’s feedback: it’s crucial to have a system to manage and organize the client’s input in one place. This is important, especially in conflicts and disputes, to easily trace past feedback and find a solution.
- Standardized protocols: establish standard protocols for sharing content with clients, how to leave feedback/reviews, and how to update progress. Make sure every element of the approval process is standardized.
- Approval for launch: the last step of this phase is to get the client’s final approval to allow the product launch so we can move on to the next step.
Step 4: Launch
This final phase is launching the graphic design product, but we may also need to finalize some administration processes:
- Managing client’s satisfaction: ensure the client is happy with the final approved product before launch, make sure all details are covered
- Accurately track billing: there are several options for structuring your pricing approach, whether billing per hour, fixed fee, and so on. Ensure you accurately calculate your expenses, so both you and your clients are clear with the pricing details.
- Sending out invoices: after billing is calculated, you can send physical or digital invoices
- Retaining clients: provide after-delivery customer service and regular reports about the campaign. Maintain client satisfaction so they can stay with you on the next job.
Managing workflow in a graphic design business process is crucial if you want to improve the business process’s overall efficiency. Workflow management can significantly help a graphic designer or an agency ensure better deliverability, prevent missed deadlines, and ultimately ensure the client’s satisfaction.
Using the right workflow management solution by Aproove can also help create a more interactive graphic design workflow where both your team and your clients can collaborate, provide feedback, and give approval in a single dashboard.