Graphic Design – The Four Essentials

Have you ever started a graphic design project for a client before you had all the details and agreed on all the terms? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. One of the biggest mistakes made by designers is starting on the design before being completely informed. Before you start your next project without all of the information, consider these four graphic design essentials:

Know Your Client

Every client has different expectations and you won’t know what they are unless they are clearly defined. Don’t be caught in the middle of a graphic design project without a contract that lists in detail the scope of the project, number of revisions, number of initial versions you will make, etc. Understanding your client’s expectations and having them written down are two of the best time-saving approaches you can take. Make sure you also understand the timeline for the graphic design project as well as other requirements.

Happy black businesswoman and businessman shaking hands at meeting. Professional business executive leaders making handshake agreement. Happy business man closing deal at negotiations with african american woman.

In addition to using a contract, you should also research and learn about the client you are doing work for. What have they done before? Get samples of their current printed material, visit their website and visit their office. What are their company values? What does their company currently communicate to you? How do they want that changed or reinforced? These are all important questions to answer in order to better understand your client.

Know Their Audience

Imagine designing two brochures. One for a veterinarian clinic and one for an attorney’s office. While they are both established businesses, their target audiences are completely different. A fun, animal theme might be appropriate for the vet clinic but not for an attorney’s office. For them a sophisticated and corporate look with less bright colors would be a better fit. So, it’s important to know who their customers are and what are best practices in their industry.

Know the Medium(s)

You want your graphic designs to look its absolute best! In order to do this, you need to know the mediums your design will be used on. Common applications include: presentations, online, in print and on a billboard. Designing bigger is almost always better. If you’re doing print resolution make sure your designing in a vector based program or 300 DPI or higher in programs like Adobe Photoshop.

Know its Value

When I started doing web and graphic design many years ago, my tendency was to price too low and accept every project that came my way. I was just starting out and wanted to be successful. As you can imagine it wasn’t too long before I realized that I was being underpaid and underappreciated for the work I was doing. Avoid this pitfall and charge a price that will accurately reflect what your time is worth. Find out what competitors charge for the same work. Also, don’t be afraid to charge clients for your time, whether it’s one the phone, in a meeting, making changes, etc. Doing this gives them the freedom to ask for what they want and expect to get it. And this approach pays you for your efforts and makes design more rewarding.

When you accurately know your client’s expectations, their audience, the type of work you’re doing, its value and you have it all spelled out in a contract, it will allow you to focus on what you enjoy most: graphic design.

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Johnny Flash Productions

Johnny Flash Productions is a creative agency based outside of Washington D.C. that focuses on digital strategy, web design and development, graphic design and event production that helps businesses get better results from their marketing.