Risks & Assumptions When Planning Large Graphic Design Projects
Graphic designers accept considerable responsibility when taking on large design projects. These include shouldering the burden of satisfying the client while optimizing productivity and income. Wending through the myriad potential problems associated with a large design project requires thoughtful planning with the intention of minimizing risks and assumptions. The application of circumspect preparation applied to each large graphic design job can result in more time and more money for the graphic designer.
When evaluating whether or not to accept a large graphic design project, you should become familiar with the risks associated with the job. Risks can include unforeseen interruptions, such as unexpected personal issues -- either yours or your client’s -- that may need immediate addressing. For example, a family emergency might require you to put your immediate projects on hold. Or your client might quash your initial design because he dislikes your type style and font selection. Such decisions can affect an entire layout, demanding an adjustment of your project schedule, and this can potentially compromise your ability to complete other jobs. Other risks can include a lack of regular payments from your client, not receiving content from your customer in a timely manner and unreliable third-party vendors, such as printing companies, who may be experiencing their own delays.
It can be challenging for a graphic designer to minimize or completely forfeit his assumptions. For example, you might overlook asking the client about details such as color scheme, assuming instead that she will trust you to make this important decision. Avoid problems by consulting with the client about every detail of the job before you begin it. For instance, though you may have considerable experience working with three-dimensional graphics, such as those used for large signs, you should know your customer's specific preferences regarding potential shapes and the look of certain textures. Regardless of your educated decisions, the client is paying you to create something she has in mind. Heedlessly disregarding, or neglecting to inquire about, her wishes could force you to make corrections at no charge to the client. You need not slavishly follow a customer’s direction at the risk of generating an unsatisfactory product. You should, however, use your knowledge and experience to guide your client in the optimum direction, providing examples of your ideas. Damaging assumptions can be avoided with a thorough understanding of your client’s needs and agreement on outcomes.
Invariably, problems will occur during the execution of large graphic design projects, and these can add unplanned hours to the job. To mitigate cost and time overruns, your painstaking planning should include building an appropriate amount of time into your schedule. For example, if the project calls for the use of a photographer or illustrator to enhance a specific element of the project, your schedule should reflect the additional time needed for creating that art, which will also necessitate accommodating the schedules of others. If your client changes her mind on previously decided artwork -- pieces that took hours, days or even longer to complete -- planning ahead for such contingencies can enable the project to remain on schedule with your additional efforts being adequately compensated. You might use an online scheduling template to help you allot time for impromptu additions to the project.
Unnecessary risks and assumptions can be circumvented through the judicial implementation of a contract that spells out resolution for every aspect of the project. Your written agreement should include an overall budget and a detail of the job functions to be included in that figure. The document should spell out how mitigating circumstances will be handled, such as the actions you'll take in case of unforeseen obstacles. For example, your contract could stipulate that three minimal design changes can be submitted by the client at no charge if done so by a specific date, and further adjustments will be billed at an hourly rate. The contract should state final completion and sign-off dates, which would take into consideration additional time for modifications. Conscientious planning and a written contract can alleviate the bulk of project risks and assumptions.