Planning for Great Design

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? Time. The best thing you can have on your side when planning for great design is time. When you don’t prioritize time and set realistic expectations to produce the best work possible, the quality of the work suffers. Within this blog is a few reasons as to why it's so important to consider time and planning in design.

Lack of Resources

You’ve been given a few days to come up with great campaign ideas and stellar deliverables that match. You may be a Jedi-creative individual who can crank out clever one-liners and cool ideas, but as you’re in the trenches working on the deliverables you discover you don’t have what you need to make it work. Maybe this project requires original photography and you don’t have it. Or maybe you need something very specific that isn’t available as a stock resource.

One of three things can happen here: 1. Your idea dies and you need to go with a less clever, less favorable or generic looking concept that just doesn’t WOW.  2. You grab what you have and Frankenstein things together and hope for the best, knowing it’s a shot in the dark or  3. You throw a flag, push for the images you actually need and hire a photographer.  The downside?  You’ve now missed your deadline and are at the mercy of a freelance photographer’s schedule.

If you started planning further out, you and your team could identify what assets were needed much sooner or throw the flag on the field much sooner to find a solution that would give you the best possible results.

 

Cutting Corners

When time is not prioritized, corners get cut somewhere. 

Maybe you cut out the planning and brainstorming and just dive right in. You may get a great result on a whim for some things, but I wouldn’t rely on a whim for your biggest campaign of the year. When it comes to big campaigns, if you cut out planning and brainstorming someone important usually ends up feeling like the creative failed to deliver one way or another.

In another case, maybe you allocated all of your time to planning and brainstorming, but little time was given to actually create the deliverables. You may run into hiccups with lack of resources, or lack of ability to carry out grandiose concepts within the deadline and end up with “so-so” work.

If the work requires revisions (which it likely will) due to one of the issues above, then the whole team will be working down to the wire making revision after revision.  Maybe the project was never off on the right foot due to competing ideas, differentiating opinions, miscommunications or lack of research. Or maybe once it reached the higher-ups internally, they disagreed completely with the approach and you’re back to square one.  Instead of making thoughtful, purposeful revisions your team will now be frustrated and making desperate revisions just to meet the deadline.

 

Creative is a Shared Resource

In some cases, creative departments are a shared resource—meaning that they are often tapped by multiple people and departments for various tasks needed at the same time. What may look doable on paper to a single Project Manager, can create competing priorities to creatives if a proper timeline and expectations are not established. For example, a larger agency may have 5 project managers, each with 5 projects they are dedicated to. This means that the creative department for that large agency is responsible for 25 projects at a time. 

 

To counter challenges such as these, here are a few things that could help:

Content Calendars / Project Planning

2020 has made planning in advance challenging to say the least. But by planning your everyday tasks a month in advance, you're giving yourself room to flex as needed.  Your plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but knowing what direction you’re going in helps everyone tremendously. Have important dates and seasons mapped out at the beginning of the year and set your deadlines to achieve goals well enough in advance. Don’t wait until the day before to decide if and how you will communicate with your audience. If need be set a reminder for yourself so you have adequate time to achieve your goals and say what you want to say—and allow enough time to pivot if needed.   

For bigger initiatives, try working on a quarterly basis.  For example, if your biggest sales time is the winter holidays, then only giving yourself the month of November to plan is probably not the best approach. You’ll want to get the conversation and juices flowing as early as late August and plan to have your creative wrapped up early November, which will give you healthy time to make revisions as needed. 

 

Know Your Customers or Your Business

I used to joke that unless you could repeat your top client’s phone number off by heart then you didn’t know them well enough. As an agency professional, knowing my clients as more than just a name or an email has helped me to not only produce better, more intuitive work, but it also allows me to know what they may need before they even do. Instead of waiting for them to come to you about what their next step is, take yourself out of the position of yes-men and women and instead become a valuable extension to their business. If you wait on them to come to you, it could very well be an extremely important task that you will now be scrambling to pull off.

 

Teamwork

It’s cliché, but teamwork makes the dream work. Communication, understanding and knowing that everyone is in it together is crucial.  If there’s friction between team members or departments, or a lack of respect or understanding as to what is needed to get the job done, then not only will everyone be miserable, but your creative will be a mess as well.

Plan Ahead With ProFromGo

I know, I know. I’m probably making a lot of you bite your nails. Great ideas and award-winning creative can be done on a whim, but that doesn’t mean that it should be. While it’s great to always work with a sense of urgency, bad work is still bad work and producing sub-par creative can be detrimental. The idea behind planning is to prevent the fires that you can, to make room for the ones that you can’t. 

At the end of the day you want an agency that plans ahead, crosses their T’s and dots their I’s. Here at ProFromGo we plan ahead to ensure deliverables meet our client’s standards and that every client is satisfied with their investment. Don’t hesitate, reach out and contact us today so we can start planning a great design for you. 

Danielle Matthews
About the Author
Danielle is VDG's Senior Art Director. Whenever she gets a minute to herself she enjoys binge-watching Netflix, reading, obnoxiously loud music, fishing, drinking obscene amounts of coffee, and probably being an all-around nerd.
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