working with a graphic designer:
the design process and how projects unfold
“Designers are creative partners who utilize aesthetic tools to communicate your message more effectively”
Never worked with a graphc, web designer or even SEO pro before? Wonder how things unfold? Then this info is for you. It's been created to give an overview and answer some frequently asked questions and explain general policies.
Understand that when working with a designer, you ARE in a business relationship.
Alll businesses have policies in some form - design is no different.
The design process is one which unfolds between a creative & the client. Through an initial gathering of information, designers essentially interpret and transform your ideas through our creative concepts so that they may be translated into a unique finished product which communicates your message to your audience.
faqs — frequently asked questions & studio policies
- who is the right graphic designer, web designer or visual professional for your needs?
- how do you begin on a project?
- what is the actual design process?
- what is the time frame on a project?
- what is the pricing, fees and payment process?
- do you provide website design - including WordPress?
- do you offer website updates & maintenance - including WordPress sites?
- is SEO (search engine optimization) really necessary for a website?
- do you offer web hosting or domain name registration?
- what are the client's responsibilities and necessary communication?
- why are your design prices not listed?
- do you offer retainers?
- do you provide pro-bono work or discounted rates?
- do you have client testimonials?
Whether or not a designer is a good fit for your project can have several different factors including styles, budget as well as a designer's availability for your time-frame. Taking time to review a creative's portfolio can aid in dertmining if their style is right for your project. As your design partner, my goal is to work with you to bring your vision to life. It's also about communicating and educating the client as to why something may or may not work as well as offering sound options or solutions.
There is the initial inquiry, followed by the Project Qualifying Questionnaire which s a few short questions to gather pertinent information, get a sense of your objectives, gauge your level of commitment to a project and to see if we are a good fit. Upon assessment of the information provided, it will determine whether we will move forward with a consultation.
Consultations are done by phone and the first 1/2 hour is complimentary. Should your requirements exceed that, then it will be billed at an hourly rate based on a 1 hour minimum. If we determine that we are a good fit, then an estimate/contract of the services to be provided for the project will be drawn up. All projects are done on a contract basis. If the terms are accepted, and upon your signature along with a 50% deposit* which needs to be presented at that time and needs to clear depending on payment form, the project will then commence. This time frame can vary - but generally 7-10 days. (*note: the 50% deposit is non-refundable)
Requesting a deposit to begin work on a project makes sense for both parties and helps set appropriate expectations. This also protects you as a creative, while keeping you accountable to the client.
The design process can vary depending on the type of project. Generally speaking, once all the pertinent info has been gathered, contract signed and deposit received, approximately 2 to 3 initial rough comps are created based on the style and parameters of the project estimate. One design concept is chosen by the client and further developed by the designer. As the chosen design is refined, project proofs are presented to review and or submit changes. All project proofs are provided via email in a .pdf or .jpeg format. (these are Low Resolution files for proofing purposes ONLY).
3 rounds of design changes are included/built into the initial project estimate. If more changes are requested beyond the inclusive 3 rounds, then they are subject to an hourly surcharge and billed accordingly based on a one hour minimum at $75 per hour on top of the original project estimate.
Unlimited changes are not offered as they are not time or cost effective and ultimately cause more confusion than clarity. The design is then finalized and delivered in the necessary file formats depending if this is a print project (high resolution files) or formats for the web. Final payment and or balance due is required at this time in order for the project to be delivered.
Time frame can vary depending on which projects are currently in the queue as well as the scope and or complexity of a print, web or SEO project.
Once a deposit has cleared, then design drafts begin. Since the initial concepting process is the most labor intensive, the turn around time can vary and can take one to two weeks to show the designs.
There is an open line of communication with the client at all times (predominately via email). In the case of projects such as brochures, website design etc, it is imperative that the client provide all of the necessary content including text, photos & images, logos in a timely manner to ensure the project flow.
Failure to provide this vital info can stall the project and delay the completion date at no fault of the designer. After the initial comp phase, a project moves more quickly — provided that all essential and necessary elements have been sumitted by the client.
Project pricing can vary greatly and is determined at the time of estimate. Please Note: All projects are executed on a contract basis. There is a 50% non-refundable deposit to begin a project and it MUST be obtained at the time of the signing of the contract. This secures a space in the project queue as well as reflecting a client's commitment to the project. Payment is due IN FULL at the completion/deliverable of a project or web site launch. Print projects DO NOT include actual printing costs. However, If you require print bids for your projects, they may be obtained upon request.
Some smaller hourly projects may be ongoing with an established client. In this case, you can expect to be invoiced at the end of the month as well as mid-month depending on the extent of the work. This keeps things on track and breaks up the billing to the client. Payment of this arrangement is due IN FULL within 7 days of invoicing or risk the project be on hold until payment has been received. Late fees may also be applied. Payments are accepted via check, Paypal - but NO Credit Cards.
ASAP = rush charges and can vary depending on the urgency of the project but average from 50% up to 200%. Under a 3 day tunraround starts at a 50% rush charge and goes up from there. Much like FedX, 2 Day Air or Urgent Care, it's like expedited design at a premium. Needing to bump someone else's project or burning the midnight oil for your project deadline means you gotta pay a bit extra. One needs to understand the difference between a "Nice to Have" or an "Urgent - Mission Critical project.
Cancellation or Kill fees may apply if a job gets cancelled midway through production and it is appropriate to compensate the designer for the work they have completed thus far. This is generally referred to as a "kill fee", and commonly is paid in a percentage of either 50% if pre production work has been done, or 100% if the project is in production or completed.
Yes. I work with clients to create clean, functional, responsive (which can be viewed on all devices), SEO friendly websites. This includes initial concept, layout, design, SEO integration - thru completion and final site upload. Most sites are now built on the WordPress CMS platform which is robust and feature-filled.
There are some aspects of more complex programming that I have chosen not to do - but will seek out professional colleagues for these client services if and when necessary.
Yes. I do provide website maintenance and ongoing updates HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Maintaining and updating your website is something that should be done on a consistent basis. Freshness and relevancy matters to both your customers and Search Engines.
For WordPress sites, it's incredibly important to stay updated with the latest WP version. Very often these releases include security updates to protect your site. Your plug-ins and theme may also require updating. And your WP site should be backed-up regularly to prevent content loss. YES, this can happen!
YES! Competition is fierce for placement in Organic Searches and Local Searches. It's important to have SEO integrated during site development NOT an afterthought. Choosing good keywords/phrases that are relevant, providing rich content for your users and having Google Analytics installed to monitor your website's performance (and changing what's not working) are things that can affect your traffic. If your site is not perfoming well, you may not need a radical redesign — just some SEO love!
Important Note on SEO: Search engine optimization is constantly evolving and many factors now make up an effective SEO strategy. And Google's algorithms are constantly changing which can and do affect Organic Search results. SEO is necessary to rank in Search Engines but it's a “Marathon NOT a Sprint”.
I do not directly provide web hosting or domain name registration but can assist with this process. Or you can read and learn a bit more on Domain Names vs. Web Hosting here.
You are responsible for ensuring your Domain name and Hosting does not expire. Otherwise the consequences for allowing this to happen can be VERY costly! You could lose your Domain name AND all of your site content - especially if it has not been backed up!
As stated above it is imperative that clients provide ALL of the necessary content in a timely manner and it is their responsibility to review & understand the terms of a project contract. During project development, the lines of communication are kept open and accessible with consistent updates during normal business hours M-F 9:00 to 5:00 MST - which is done predominately via email.
Please Note: it is the client's responsibility to respond to designer questions/provide feedback on proofs promptly so that the project may be completed on time. Clients' communication delays WILL affect a project's completion date at no fault of the designer. Client delays can also potentially "shelve" a project thus forfeiting the deposit and necessitating the project be re-estimeted along with a resume fee before work may again commence.
The investment necessary to bring a project to its fruition varies based on a client's requirements, the project scope, appropriate design styles/trends and the technologies utilized for its proper execution. The design landscape is vast, varied and changes rapidly. The way we market and promote our businesses has changed thus projects are assessed individually and estimated accordingly upon completion of an initial new project consultation.
Yes. A retainer fee works like a monthly fee but since its purpose is to retain me as your designer. It is paid up front before any work is ordered. You are, in a sense, pre-ordering the designer’s time.. The designer anticipates work from the client and blocks out the appropriate amount of time in their schedule to accommodate the client work.
If you have recurring monthly needs, setting up a retainer would need to be discussed. You can learn more about reainters here.
To maintain universal professionalism, Future Primitive Graphics does not offer “discounted rates”. However, depending on the studio project-load, one (maybe two) pro-bono projects may be accepted per year. There is certain criteria that needs to be met in order to determine whether or not a project or organization qualifies for pro-bono work.
Being part of these special projects can be very rewarding. However, honoring all requests is not possible. Please contact Future Primitive for more info on pro-bono projects.
Yes. You may review feedback from successfully completed projects and visual solutions from actual client testimonials here.
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Cients need to understand and respect the fact that design studios & creative professionals ARE business owners with their own policies and procedures. With this in mind, this Studio does not work “on a speculative basis” which means “free work to see if you like it”. AND fully supports NO!SPEC & ANTISPEC in its efforts to communicate why this practice devalues the entire design community which in turn has negative impacts on the client as well.