How to Create a Graphic Design
Every design is unique (well, it should be because no one likes a copy-cat!) … however you may be surprised to know that designers tend to follow a set process to get to a finished design. In this blog, we will take a look at the different stages we work through to create a design.
Taking a Brief
This is the first stage of any design job and taking a good brief is a critical skill of a good designer. We can help clients articulate what they want by asking key questions. For large jobs (e.g. a logo or a website) we have a detailed questionnaire for clients to fill out. It makes them think about aspects of their business that they hadn't previously considered. We then write the brief and present it back to the client for sign-off. It's so important everyone starts out on the same page!
Now it’s up to the designer to learn as much as possible about the project, the client, their values and vision. A lot of this will come from the client but we also take this opportunity to check out the competition and what's happening in the market. This may take the form of online research, reading through company literature or a physical site visit somewhere. For example, we like to compile a snapshot of competitor's logos with some notes on what works and what doesn't.
Once the above fundamentals are in place, we look for inspiration that will help us create THE perfect solution.
Firstly, the work of other graphic designers is a great source of inspiration. The purpose here is not to copy what other designers do (see previous copy-cat reference!) but to be inspired by colours, shapes, types, layout ideas and styles of design.
Searching randomly online for inspiration can be a hit or miss rabbit hole. We have a few favourite reference sites plus we keep an inspiration library in Pinterest where we add things (almost on a daily basis) of great work. Designers love sketch books and we are also partial to a cork board for pinning physical things as we come across them (don't lend me a magazine and expect it back in one piece). It's also helpful to keep up to date with graphic design trends.
Now we will do a mood board which brings everything together so far .... and usually gives us the warm and fuzzies! We love making mood boards and they can be a design in themselves.
"A mood board is a type of visual presentation or a collage consisting of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition. A mood board can be used to convey a general idea or feeling about a particular topic." Thanks Wiki!
I often like to share my mood board with the client so they have an understanding on the direction we are going. It's another checkpoint that we are on track.
Concept creation & development
This is where (we hope!) the magic starts to happen! Every designer will have a different way of coming up with concepts. Some like to sit quietly in their studio, others might like to scribble on the bus or go for a swim. For me, I like to go for a quiet hike in nature – 99% of the time it does the trick. Sometimes I take a photo of the mood board with me. By the end, I usually have at least 3 ideas floating around in the head. Then it's a matter of sitting down in the studio, drawing thumbnails, and eventually switching on the computer and going to work. All things going well, it finishes with 'Ah-Ha, got it!'.
Presenting & Refining
The creative process should be an interactive process which the client is involved in. So we always like to take feedback at this point, drill down to one concept and then finish the design off. And because we have done the work in the first 4 stages, we can be confident we are presenting what a client needs and hopefully this stage is relatively smooth.
The design is approved and we get to work on the production and delivery.... in whatever form that might be – for example, a website going live, logo application or working with printers.
Before I studied graphic design, I thought it was 100% computers and I was rather surprised to discover graphic designers don't sit straight down at a computer and instantly create a design! I love following this design process and it's very satisfying to start with a blank piece of paper and end up with a killer design!