The Graphic Design Process
The Graphic Design Process is a series of steps that a designer takes when working on a graphic design project. The details of each stage will differ depending on the type of design but the approach should always be the same. It is vital to stick to the process during a design as skipping a stage, completing stages out of order of not using the process at all will result in a lower quality outcome, an outcome the client is not happy with or even worse no outcome at all.
The diagram above outlines the basic stages of the graphic design process and below each stage is explained in more detail.
1. Analyse The BriefEach design project will begin when a client delivers the designer with a brief. The brief will outline what the client wants although as the client will likely have no design experience it is important for the designer to carefully analyse all details given by the client and if necessary to make further enquiries about the needs of the client.
2. Identify Key RequirementsBased on the analysis of the brief you must identify the most important parts/key requirements. Ask yourself, what requirements must I fulfil? For example when designing a poster for an event, the simple act of including the time, date and venue are much more important than any other aspect as a poster without the necessary details is useless. It is therefore important to identify and prioritise the key requirements of the brief. The graphic design style most appropriate to the brief should also be identified at this point.
3. Research Existing DesignsResearch is important to identify possible design styles and ideas which may also suit the needs of your client. These samples can be used when meeting with the client to identify the style of image/design which they prefer. For students research will also help to familiarise yourself with industry standard designs and the quality of design which is required.
4. Generate IdeasComing up with an idea for the design, a slogan for a campaign, an image for a poster, a name for a website etc. can be difficult. However, by focusing on fulfilling the key requirements of the brief and allowing your research to inspire you it is possible to generate original designs for your project. Brainstorming is often used where a lack of ideas is a problem. Free writing is a type of brainstorming which simply involves relaxing your mind and writing down any and all ideas you have as quickly as possible without really thinking. Having your research around you can help when doing this. It may seem very simple but generally people have numerous ideas but they tend to dismiss them before writing them down, considering them down and allowing them to be developed into viable design solutions. For help and assistance visit our article on idea generation.
5. Develop IdeasIt is good practice not to settle on simply one idea but rather to choose 2 or 3 of your best ideas and develop them through simple sketches, drawings, colour scheme test pages and font style sheets. These steps all help to develop your ideas and highlight which one has the most potential for success. Sketching will also help to identify possible layouts/compositions that can be used.
6. Produce The DesignOnce an idea has been selected and sufficiently developed it is time to begin producing/creating the design. It is important to note that this is commonly the stage that overeager student designers begin at and without stating the obvious this should never be done. Depending on the type of design different softwares or materials will be used to create the design but regardless of the means of production it is important that the previous stages are not forgotten and that the key requirements are fulfilled. For help and assistance with the graphic design production stage you may find our Photoshop tutorials useful.
7. Test The DesignThis is a quick and simple stage of the process but one that is often overlooked. For printed designs testing simply involves printing the design to ensure the resolution and colours are of good quality, that no clipping of important details occur and that text is readable and without errors. For website design this stage will involve checking that all features are functional, that links are working and that page loading speeds are acceptable.
8. Place The Design InsituFor printed designs this will involve placing the poster/logo/sign/banner etc. in its intended position and ensuring that text is readable from an acceptable distant, images are clear and that the colours do not clash with or blend into their surroundings. For websites this will involve publishing the website online and rechecking all features and functions. For other types of designs, such as architecture or interior design, a programme such as Photoshop can be used to digitally place the design into its intended environment.
9. Evaluate The Design:Before presenting your final design to the client it is vital that you evaluate it without bias. The easiest way to do this is simply return to stage 2 where you identified the key requirements of the brief and see if you have successfully fulfilled them. It may also be useful to get the opinion of others at this stage if you fear you will be unable to objectively evaluate your own design.
10. Redesign:This step is only necessary if, after evaluation, you feel you have not successfully met the key requirements of the design brief. This stage involves returning to the beginning of the process and returning through each step correcting the errors which led to the key requirements not been fulfilled.
If you enjoyed this article then perhaps our articles on the web, interior, games or furniture design processes may also be of interest.