I’m the first to admit that I’m a people pleaser. When Hot Dog Marketing was in its infancy, giving time away was an easy decision because most of the time it made for happy clients and really, that’s all I cared about. I didn’t really care about what made for a good design process. I just wanted referrals.
Unfortunately, the few times when we didn’t stick with a process and just did everything we could to make the client happy, it actually resulted in unhappy clients because guess what . . . the client is spending WAY more time on the project too. It’s not a one-way street. We realize when we’re spinning our wheels, the client’s wheels might be falling off!
The other result of not sticking with a process is that a collaborative, fun and exciting project turns into a battle with the client versus creative team. This happens because there weren’t clear expectations set or plenty of friendly check-ins that re-emphasize the process. Projects either go way out of scope and the creative team feels bruised and battered or clients feel ripped off, taken advantage of or their time reviewing the project is completely mismanaged. Rather than someone coming out a loser when the project is over, everyone should feel like winners. Processes help us do this.
Hot Dog Marketing has adapted a good design process we feel very proud of. It’s a five-step, back-to-basics process powered by our client services manager and managed by our creative director. Our goal is to always deliver remarkable client services and this process helps us get that job done.
Stage 1: Discovery
We find out what it means to the client to have a successful project. We review design, goals, strategy and branding to ensure we knock it out of the park. We’ll find out if you need help writing your content or getting photography and will adjust the schedule and budget based on any new findings we make.
Stage 2: Design
We take your content or the content we wrote for you along with pictures, graphics and other materials you provide to turn out some great ideas for you. We’ll make sure everything we do for you in this stage matches the expectations set in the Discovery stage. We also require clients to have their content written and ready to go before we enter Stage 3. It makes a tremendous difference on workflow, the ability to deliver the project on time, and saves on headaches all around.
Stage 3: Development
Web or print, the next stage of a good design process is development. Our goal at this stage is to take all the content plus approved designs and turn out a finished project for final review. We purposely limit the last minute decisions during this stage in order meet your scheduled delivery date.
Stage 4: Delivery
Time to launch! Once your developed project is approved, we’ll go live with the website or send the project to the printer for fulfillment.
Stage 5: De-Brief
We want to know how we did. Our goal is always to receive five stars, but sometimes we fall short and that’s how we get better. Our team will re-group after projects too to see what went well and what didn’t go so well.
The goal of a good design process is not to deny clients flexibility. Ask our past clients, and they’ll let you know we’re beyond reasonable and still trying to be people pleasers. The goal of a strict design process is to make sure the project stays on schedule, on budget (for both parties), and to ensure everyone is satisfied with the results.
We will never stop evolving. In the many years we’ve been in business now, this process is only getting better!
Want to read about how to have better client service in your business? Read last week’s article on our blog.
I’m a mom, a small business owner, and I’m a marketing professional with over a decade helping businesses with their branding and online presence. When I’m not spending time with my family or on my business, I love cooking (and eating), racquetball, yoga, and shopping. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Martin. My favorite movies are L.A. Story, Little Mermaid, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Trainspotting.