Workflow management might seem like a term used exclusively in rigid businesses and not in a creative environment like graphic design.
However, effective workflow management can benefit graphic designers in many ways and can help a graphic designer grow. Whether you are a graphic design student, a freelancer just starting out, or a seasoned professional, in reality, you will be continuously engaged in workflow management when designing something.
Let’s explore how you can use workflow in a graphic design environment and the benefits you can get from it.
The Benefits of Workflow Management for Graphic Designer
Workflow is essential for any graphic designer because, in graphic design, you will always interact with others.
Even if you are a lone-wolf freelance designer, you must still work together with your client, probably for a prolonged amount of time. Proper workflow management will significantly help in communicating your ideas, getting your ideas across, while at the same time will also help your client in providing their feedback.
A similar thing would apply when you work in a team, big or small.
Workflow, in a nutshell, is about structuring tasks, and workflow management will help to visualize and communicate these tasks, the sequence of order, and the progress.
When a graphic designer can’t properly communicate the tasks to their client, it may result in wasted time and resources, and worse things could happen if the same error gets made in a graphic design team.
People work and communicate differently, especially creative people, like graphic designers, who often have unique styles. Some like to plan every detail about the design before making the first stroke, and others want to work first and edit later.
Some require very detailed, in-depth briefs, and some prefer very short briefs.
In the form of software where tasks get automated, and everyone involved can comment on each task, workflow management provides a way for creative directors and managers to custom-tailor each task according to the designer’s needs. Vice versa, designers can also tailor the task according to the client’s preference.
How To Create Effective Workflow Management In Graphic Design
The typical graphic design workflow typically involves the following phases:
- Creating project specifications and finding ideas (Ideation/Conception phase)
- Send over ideas and budget estimates to the client
- Ask the client for approval to start the project and for feedback
- Production/development of the graphic design product
- Get internal approval from manager/creative director (if any)
- Send the end product to the client for final approval
- Product launch
While the details might vary depending on the graphic design product, client’s preferences, and other factors, these seven steps remain relatively the same. We can further simplify these steps into just four stages or phases: Ideation, Development, Review/Approval, and Launch.
Phase 1: Ideation
In this phase, the workflow should address things like:
- The process of making the creative brief. Who’s responsible for it, who’s the target audience of the product, etc.
- The kickoff meeting, an internal meeting, and another one that involves the client.
- Define objectives for the project and set KPIs and milestones according to these objectives.
- Define key responsibilities and roles for your team.
- Identify potential issues and risks related to the project.
- Competitive analysis to compare ideas with your client’s competitors.
- Develop a mood board.
- Plan the workload of your team.
- Managing client expectations.
To summarize, this step ensures proper planning before we start the project, from finding ideas, planning workloads, defining responsibilities, and defining metrics to measure the project’s success
Phase 2: Development
This phase is about the actual creation of the graphic design product, and would typically involve the following steps:
- Generate final ideas for the project via brainstorming or other ideation techniques.
- Discussing the ideas with the client to finalize the creative brief.
- Planning and implementing a collaborative working space, using a collaboration solution to allow team members to work more efficiently with each other.
- Managing the team’s workloads during the development process, ensuring all members can complete their assigned tasks and meet their deadlines.
- Regularly update the client about the progress.
- Inquire feedback from the client.
- Creating status reports and documenting different versions of the product.
- Tracking the time spent by the whole team for billing purposes.
To summarize, this step ensures the product development process’s effectiveness while also optimizing communication with your client.
Phase 3: Review/Approval
This phase is performed to fine-tune the product after its completed, and might include the following steps:
- Organizing an internal approval system (i.e., with the manager/creative director)
- Organizing approval with the client after the internal approval has been completed
- Organizing revision and approval cycles with online proofing software for graphic designers
- Choosing a graphic design review solution/software if required
- Establishing standard protocols in sharing content with the client, especially if it involves large files
- Getting final approval from the client to allow product launch
Phase 4: Launch
The final phase is the launch of the graphic design product, and the workflow for this phase typically includes the following:
- Delivering the files
- Sending out invoices
- Setting up policies for after-sales services
- Maintaining client satisfaction to maximize retention
While there are many different ways to establish a graphic design workflow. Workflow management can help graphic designers and creative agencies execute more efficient graphic design business processes—better deliverability, more efficient production, and fewer revisions, with more satisfied clients.
Implementing workflow management can significantly save your time and resources in the long run while also improving each graphic design project’s profitability. While implementing workflow management can be overwhelming, having the right solution like Aproove can make the process much easier. You can also easily communicate with each other and with your client throughout the whole business process.