Last month I hosted a challenge for designers in the Get Back to Design Facebook group where we talked about streamlining your process so you can ditch overwhelm and have more time to actually do stuff like, oh I don’t know, design. We focused a lot about how to simplify the steps in your process by using digital tools or templates, and the response to the challenge was amazing.
However, there was definitely a time after I started doing work for myself that I didn’t even know what my process was supposed to look like, which held me back from streamlining it, obviously. I know there are a lot of new designers and even seasoned ones who need help getting the process nailed down, so they can work out ways to make things go more smoothly for themselves and their clients.
So, in today’s post I wanted to share a few steps you can take to not only nail down exactly what you want your process to look like but also how you can keep it organized while you work with clients.
What different projects do you offer?
Obviously before you can ever really start thinking about your process, you need to know what type of design work you’re offering. Even if you’re a jack of all trades, it’s important to know what you offer and who you want to work with so you’re able to make your design business stand out more. It’s also good to think about what you offer so you can make sure that you’re doing the type of design work that you truly enjoy.
If you’re just getting started or ready to make a shift in your business, take a look at the recent projects you’ve been doing and enjoying. Were they all branding? Maybe they were doing marketing design for local businesses? You may offer one type of design work, like my friend Lee Ann who only offers branding, or you may offer a variety of design services like my friend Kaitlyn who serves as a design assistant. Whatever it is, make sure you’re clear on what it is you’re offering to your clients.
List out every single step for your different projects
Once you know exactly what type of design work you’re doing, you can list out the process for each type. This was one of the steps I had attendees take in the challenge last month, and without a doubt they all found it really beneficial to list things out because it gave them a chance to visually see what they were doing for their clients every step of the way. Without having this visual representation, it can be easy to forget certain steps.
When you’re listing out your process make sure you’re starting from the moment you get the inquiry to when you’ve wrapped the project up. While you’re listing everything out, make sure you’re being specific. Don’t just say “logo design phase”. Actually list the steps you take. This may sound a little tedious, but by listing out literally every single step going to figure out what your process actually looks like as a whole. Also, in the future it’ll help you make sure you’re not missing any steps when you’re actually working with clients.
Start organizing and streamlining your processes
Now you’re ready to actually start organizing your process, and you can start by taking a look at your lists and getting rid of steps that may be unnecessary or just tweaking certain steps to help cut back on how long they take you. You can also start to streamline your process by using a client management software like Dubsado or at least digital tools to send things like contract and invoices to cut down on the time it takes for you to create and send some of those pieces.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that you’re not trying to create this absolutely perfect process that you’ll never have to revisit again, but instead to create something that works for the type of design work you do and who you work with. I can’t tell you what your process should look like because most of us work in our unique ways, but once you can list out what you do for each type of project you take on, you’ll likely start to see commonalities, things that you know work really well, and things that need to be adjusted before your next client.
Use a project management software to stay organized
Once you’ve done all of the hard work to define your client process, I can’t recommend enough that you use a project management software with your clients to help stay organized. One of the main benefits of creating an organized process with clients is so you don’t forget any of the steps in your process while you’re working with clients.
Using a project management system makes it much easier to keep track of where you are on a project and all of the steps you need to be taking. It helps your client know what you’re working on if they haven’t heard from you in a few days, and it allows you to keep your projects on track so you don’t miss any deadlines.
I’ll be talking more about project management software and how it’ll help your projects over the next couple of weeks, so if you’re not sure where to start when it comes to this, be sure to keep an eye on this space!
How do you keep your process organized?
Do you know what your process actually looks like from start to finish? How do you keep things organized while you’re working with clients? I’d love to hear in the comments below!