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The Design Coordinator’s Little Helper

Practical advice for saving time and money when coordinating your design project

Well, it’s finally happened: You’ve been put in charge of a big graphic design project. 

Aw, nerts. Now what?

Coordinating a graphic design project can be intimidating, especially if you’re not a graphic designer yourself.

Whether you’re a marketing and communications coordinator, an entrepreneur, or a fellow creative, this condensed guide will provide you with essential advice to streamline the process and achieve excellent results when you’re collaborating with a third-party graphic design provider.

Phase One: Defining Your Objectives

Before searching for a design partner, start by outlining the key details of your project:

  • Establish your goals: Figure out what you aim to achieve by the end of the project.
  • Identify your target audience: Get to know their demographics and preferences to ensure effective design.
  • Craft your key message: Identify the most important thing you want your audience to think, do, or feel.
  • Set your budget and timeline: Though these may change later, having approximate figures in mind will help you during your selection process.
  • Consider writing a creative brief to summarize these details, which you can share with potential design partners.

Phase Two: Selecting the Right Design Partner

When searching for a design partner, focus on local providers who have a strong online reputation. Use these steps to narrow down your options:

  • Check Google reviews: Look for design companies with a rating of four stars or higher.
  • Review online portfolios: Ensure the designers’ recent work aligns with your project’s style and goals.
  • Contact your top three choices: Inquire about availability, ask for cost estimates, and invite their input on your plans for the project.
  • Invite your preferred designers to a discovery meeting. Assess your compatibility and establish clear responsibilities and communication channels. Remember: The fewer people there are between the designer and the person who approves the design, the less opportunity for mistakes and misinterpretation.

Phase Three: Seven Habits of Highly Effective Collaborators

To be a good partner to your design provider, follow these guidelines:

  • Provide all necessary resources: Offer your logo, brand guidelines, relevant images, and polished copy.
  • Deliver complete and refined copy: Make sure your written content is reviewed, spell-checked, and grammatically-correct. Small changes in layout can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Check in with your designer periodically, but avoid excessive meetings to minimize costs. Email is a convenient way to stay updated, and online meetings can replace in-person discussions when necessary.
  • Trust your designer: Evaluate drafts based on how well they meet your project goals, rather than on personal preferences.
  • Provide clear feedback: Be specific and concise when providing feedback to avoid misinterpretations. Consider using tools like Adobe Acrobat to post comments directly on design drafts.
  • Prioritize your recommended revisions: Clearly communicate the importance of each revision. Avoid adding unnecessary elements that may clutter the design.
  • Focus on your project’s goals throughout the entire process. While challenges may arise, keeping your objective in mind will guide decision-making and lead to more efficient and impactful designs.

Failing in any of the above, we recommend keeping in mind some helpful advice from our Senior Designer, Graham: 

 “More than anything, it really helps when the client is polite and pleasant to deal with.”

Illustrations made for Canadian Women in Design by Amanda Schutz.

Over 20 years, Curio has been working with clients and coordinators across the entire spectrum of experience and expertise. Let us know if we can help you come in on-time and under-budget for your next graphic design project!

This post was last updated on July 6, 2023 by Matt Steringa