All designers make mistakes. Craig Minchington examines the most common howlers, and how to avoid them.
Although we don’t like to admit it later on in our careers, when we start making our way as designers, we make a lot of mistakes. Once you’re working in a creative agency you quickly learn that there are a lot of things you should not do. Here I’ve compiled a list of 10 common design mistakes for you to be aware of. Although I’ve committed most of these crimes myself, I have learned from them and hopefully they can help you too…
01. Not understanding the brief
Without a clear idea of what the client wants you can end up making matters complicated for yourself. A lot of time can be wasted procrastinating, or working up design ideas that may not be relevant to the client’s needs. Instead, you need to read and understand the brief carefully from the start, make notes, brainstorm and try to keep in contact with the client to ensure that what you are working up is heading in the right direction.
02. Not saving files correctly
Knowing how to set up your files correctly from the start is vitally important. There are many things to consider depending on the output of the work.
Print work is generally set up as CMYK and at 300dpi, whereas work for the web should be RGB at 72dpi. Remember to consider bleed, trim and safety areas. Before sending to print, think about your file formats, outlining fonts and colour profiles.
Often clients don’t know what they want but they want to know how much it will cost.We’ve all had that sinking feeling when meeting with a prospective client. The work is interesting and right in your sweet spot. But they don’t know exactly what they want or even what the deliverables should be. After a few minutes, you realize that just getting a decent proposal together is going to take a serious investment of time to unravel their needs.
Our company’s search for a better way to respond to RFPs (aka Requests For Proposal) began after a long and arduous bidding process around building a community-based website. We invested 3-4 days of our time conducting meetings, white-boarding ideas, and writing up our recommendations. We pushed the client into an awkward discussion around budget. But, at the end, we delivered a proposal with a rock-solid roadmap for executing the project.What happened next changed how we pitch and has made all the difference in our business.
Instead of hiring us, the prospective client simply passed around our ideas and deliverables to every other vendor for competing bids. Those vendors, in turn, said, “You bet we can do that – and for less.” We didn’t get compensated for our time or our work, but our ideas were implemented.
Prospective clients in the creative fields frequently use the RFP process – albeit unintentionally – as a cost-effective way to get brainstorming, mock-ups, and prototypes for free.
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