You might be surprised to know that in many cases, research and preparation can take up the majority of time spent on a project. Doing a bit of preliminary research and preparation can save you quite a bit of time and money while also making the graphic designers that you contact very happy. Here’s a short list of questions you might want to think about before beginning a design project. Google might not be able to provide solutions for your specific needs but it can be very useful for finding general information which can help you answer some of these questions.
Have You Done Any Market Research?
Having a good understanding of your target market goes a long way towards communicating with them effectively. You should at least gather enough research to have a basic idea of who your potential customers are so you can use that information to create a profile. For business to business (B2B) companies, a profile might include industry, company size, revenue, etc. For business to consumer (B2C) companies, a profile might include age, gender, household income, values, etc.
In addition to knowing who your customers are, it’s equally important to know how they feel about your industry and if possible your specific company and its products / services. Research your competitors and how they present themselves, the features of their products, the services they offer, etc. and think about how you might be able to differentiate your company.
What Are Your Goals?
Designs should be aesthetically pleasing and accomplish some kind of goal. I’ll be honest with you, starting a design project without goals and some kind of strategy to achieve them is an inefficient use of money. You should know the goals of your project as they will determine the metrics that you use to gauge the success of the project. Think about how you can align your goals with the message you’d like to communicate, the people with whom you’d like to communicate, and their reasons for caring.
Does Your Budget Match Your Expectations?
An analogy that is often used when discussing design project pricing is searching for a house or apartment to rent / buy. Your budget is directly correlated to potential locations, square footage, amenities, etc. If you live in NYC and can only afford $500 per month for shelter, you can forget about a house and you’re going to make some compromises for an apartment. However, with $50,000 you’d have a lot more options.
Have you thought about how much you can actually afford to comfortably spend? Based on your budget, is your list of needs and wants a realistic set of specs or a wish list? If your current budget isn’t enough to cover your list of ideas, consider splitting the project into smaller parts and prioritizing the order in which they should be completed.
Is This The Right Time?
Completing a design project at the expense of neglecting other tasks / responsibilities that should be a higher priority is not a good idea. You should be absolutely certain that you can comfortably afford the investment of time and money required by the project. A wonderfully executed design project won’t be of much use if you go out of business before seeing any returns. By the same token if its your busy season or you’re dealing with other issues that are more pressing you should put off the design project until you’re able to devote the necessary amount of time needed to make the project successful.