As design professionals, we may face the challenge of delivering exceptional solutions in a restricted time frame. This case study delves into the methods and tactics employed to achieve impressive outcomes successfully despite the constraints.
Meeting deadlines and fulfilling customer expectations are vital aspects of ensuring customer satisfaction. If you are a designer, chances are that you will come across clients with tight project schedules. Such scenarios are chances for you to improve your deadline management abilities and get ready for any unforeseen challenges.
Designers typically encounter two distinct types of scenarios when working on their projects. In an ideal situation, a user-centric design is required, and there is no strict deadline, providing ample time and resources to deliver the best possible result. However, reality is often more challenging.
“I require an out-of-the-box, innovative, and imaginative solution – exceptional UX, a visually engaging user interface…and I need it urgently.”
When assigned a logo design and key branding components like a website, mobile user interfaces, and social media graphics to be created within a deadline of only thirty days, we must be proactive in completing all tasks efficiently and within the time frame. Prioritizing tasks and time allocation is crucial to ensure that each project is delivered to the highest possible standard. Additionally, regular communication with the client is vital to ensure that all deliverables match their expectations.
Once the initial panicked reaction subsides, the realization sets in that the only viable solution is working smartly.
To achieve productivity, precision, and superior design quality, creating a comprehensive plan in advance is a crucial step. To attain any objective, considerable effort and commitment are required. Developing a timeline and allocating sufficient time to each stage of the process can help guarantee optimal outcomes.
No matter what, certain tormenting questions always arise:
- Is it worthwhile to proceed with such limited time restrictions?
- Does a shortage of time lead to subpar design quality?
- Could I have done a superior job with more time at my disposal?
As designers, we must analyze the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of each project to devise innovative solutions. These constraints can inspire us to think beyond the conventional and generate distinct and original solutions.
A comprehensive understanding of the tasks necessary for the successful completion of a project is crucial. We must also communicate with the client regarding the impact of the tight deadlines on the design’s overall quality. However, the looming deadline should not be an excuse for not striving for excellence, but rather a motivation to produce exceptional output. A Harvard Business School research on creative work conducted under time constraints finds that time pressure often drives greater creativity and output quality.
The research findings underscore the significance of allocating sufficient time for creative cognitive thinking, particularly for employees who require a high level of creativity. It is unlikely that employees will be able to generate innovative ideas without any form of time pressure, be it external or self-imposed. As a result, managers must ensure that employees receive designated time for creative tasks.
The study suggests that excessive pressure may hinder creativity, but moderate levels of pressure may result in better-quality designs.
Managing multiple ongoing projects as a freelancer can be challenging, but it provides an opportunity to organize effectively and optimize limited time. While establishing an efficient strategy for remote working may seem overwhelming, a well-crafted plan is the key to success.
Days 1-2: Begin with a Plan!
The initial step towards achieving success is to segment the project into manageable parts and estimate the required time for each stage. Goal setting is a vital tool for motivation and achieving desired outcomes. Experts in the domain of goal setting recommend dividing a large goal into smaller, attainable steps, increasing the odds of success.
Designing a brand identity involves presenting the customer with a variety of choices, and creating multiple versions of the design can be beneficial in this regard. In my experience, displaying three logo design variations accompanied by essential branding components like typography, colour schemes, imagery, and icon sets provides a robust groundwork for further refinement of the concept and visual elements.
Establish and Follow Work Procedures.
Efficient work practices enable streamlined workflow and clearly defined project responsibilities. For instance, my approach to a standard design task, like developing a logo or designing a user interface, involves the following process:
Acquire Complete Knowledge of Your Client’s Company:
- What is Their Core Business Activity and Focus?
- Who is Their Target Audience, and what are Their Needs?
- What are Their Goals, and What Design Challenges Need to be Addressed?
- Who are Your Competitors, and What Strategies can Help You Excel?
An easy and effective approach to obtaining the above information is by way of a questionnaire or design brief.
Create a Mood Board
Developing a mood board is a crucial phase of any project, allowing for a holistic view of the design elements. It is helpful in ideation and effectively presents all the design elements that need to be incorporated. Free applications are available that make creating mood boards simpler.
Adobe Illustrator is an excellent choice for creating a digital collage. This software allows unrestricted building, integration, and adjustment of components, giving the freedom to experiment with the visual aesthetics and story using colours, images, symbols, typography, and other design elements. It is not essential to be particular about component placement; the objective is to develop a composition that conveys the desired appearance and message.
Day 3: Design Conceptualisation
After creating the mood board, the subsequent step is to ideate, which will establish the basis for all your future design work. Conceptualising enables assessment of the practicability of different design elements. This concept acts as a prototype for future exploration.
Incorporating a mood board into a project can act as an effective tool to guarantee that the design objectives align with the company’s goals and target audience. It lays the foundation for the UX direction and is a preferred UX deliverable amongst design veterans. Therefore, it is important to dedicate sufficient energy towards creating a mood board.
Recognising the importance of this phase is crucial, as building a robust concept is paramount to generating an engaging narrative, even in the primary phases of the project. Prioritising people’s emotions and experiences during visual interactions rather than just the visuals themselves should be the primary focus.
Simon Sinek, a celebrated marketing strategist and motivational speaker in the industry, delivered an exceptional TED talk on the subject.
A mood board can aid in originating significant phrases and establishing icon and picture styles into a concept. It is imperative to consider typographic choices that are readable and appropriate for both digital and print media. This represents a vital facet of exceptional design and is one of the primary principles of universal design.
Day 4: Crafting Brand Visuals
Commencing the brand-building process without a suitable strategy can lead to wastage of significant time and energy. It is prudent to conclude the concept and visual guide files before generating various logo versions. This will guarantee that proper actions are taken, and any branding difficulties can be handled competently and promptly.
Originate the logo design process by conceptualising the designs on paper, which is more effective than initially working on digital programs such as Illustrator, Sketch, or others. Employing this approach facilitated the creation of three separate logo designs that were compatible with the brand’s identified aesthetic style. This task required a couple of days to accomplish.
There remains the possibility of requiring further modifications and adjustments to the logo design; notwithstanding, once the customer concludes the logo, colours, font, icons, and photographic style, the essential brand elements will be in place.
Days 7-15: Website Designing and Development
Brand development constitutes a holistic process, comprising website designing and development besides logo design. A good starting point could be website designing, as it serves as an opportunity to create visual guidelines and observe how they align with the mobile application’s objectives and attributes. This practice fosters consistency in the visual appeal across all platforms.
A site map is an exhaustive register of all the web pages obtainable on a website. This record serves as a planning tool for web designing and displays the website pages in hierarchical order, making it simpler for both crawlers and visitors to navigate the website.
Before beginning a project, owning a site map can provide significant advantages as it presents a comprehensive outline of all the constituting elements of a website. In instances which necessitate a site map, it’s crucial to work alongside the client to construct one.
This task may involve posing the following questions to your client:
- What is the total number of pages on the website?
- Which are the most important pages on the website?
- Are there any subpages?
This action will render a clear insight into the website’s arrangement along with a comprehension of the project’s extent.
Initial Step: Create a Copy
I advise clients to furnish all necessary materials and information they intend to publish on the website at their earliest convenience. This practice facilitates the designer to fashion the user interface congruous to the copy, rather than cramming the text into a pre-existing interface.
Opting for the copy-first approach can save valuable time for both you and the developers. Adopting the reverse approach may result in complications. While pseudo-text serves its purpose, it may have adverse effects on real projects, notably if the design is typography-dependent where content is at the core. Choosing to focus on the copy offers no drawbacks and steers towards generating exceptional creative work.
Designing a Website
If you have followed all the previous steps, you should have already set up general visual directives, a site map, and textual matter. Currently, you are well-equipped to commence the construction of the actual web pages.
Considering the significance of the homepage as the foremost page users come across when they visit a website, it is pivotal to assign priority when designing this page. The Pareto principle asserts that 80% of the website’s design trajectory must be determined by the homepage’s context, typography, colours, repetitive components, etc. The remaining 20% should be directed towards other pages.
Commencing by sorting out and selecting pertinent components for the homepage is advantageous. Devoting time to integrate extensive content and textual matter will facilitate the organisation of the entire page, enabling identification of any shortcomings and additional components that can be incorporated to enhance visitor engagement and encourage purchases or utilisation of the product or service.
Integrating prominent call-to-action sections into your marketing strategy is an excellent method to highlight your product or service and encourage customers to act. Such sections are a potent way to endorse your product and urge customers to make purchases, sign-ups for newsletters, membership registration, and much more.
If the technology, target audience, and type of company of the client allow, integrating motion design, such as GIFs or animations, can supply complementary context to the website while simultaneously directing attention to the call-to-action section. Nevertheless, designers must be cautious in creating something that necessitates an excessive amount of time and resources to develop.
Days 15–25: Execute Universal Design
According to the originators of the concept of universal design, it can be utilized to scrutinize current designs, manoeuvre the design process, and educate designers and customers about the features of more functional products and environments.
Employing the concept of Universal Design can be an exceptionally effective method when working on extensive ventures. This tactic encompasses creating a coherent concept and visual directive that is apt for all aspects of the project, including branding, website, and mobile applications. This approach can be particularly useful when there are time limitations involved.
Repetitive features can present a crucial hindrance when factoring in technological prerequisites. Responsive websites and mobile platforms have their own unique rules and protocols. Failure to address them appropriately can result in significant issues. Nevertheless, incorporating features that can be utilized on various platforms is crucial for the success of any project. For this particular scenario, covering a multitude of devices/platforms would have been insurmountable without a uniformed design that maps out a clear direction for the brand’s expansion.
Performing under strict timelines and constructing for several platforms can limit the utilization of the entire potential of each platform. To guarantee success in such circumstances, it may be advantageous to concentrate on establishing a “bulletproof” solution, which is expectedly recognisable to the user base.
For instance, utilising the same concept across several pages, but marginally adjusting the design as per the device being used, can be advantageous. This approach can be notably useful while exhibiting essential information or encouraging consumers to make a purchase. For example, the search bar may remain mostly identical despite the type of device being used.
The website has been created, and you now have a greater understanding of the UX for the applications.
A user flowchart is a means of simplifying and clarifying the UX development process.
The most prevalent method for constructing flowcharts involves creating visual diagrams, along with concise labels and, as needed, supplementary descriptive text. My favoured option for developing and manipulating the charts is with Sketch or Illustrator. Nonetheless, any software that enables the production and alteration of the charts would be a suitable substitute.
Will Little has given an exemplary clarification of this:
The engineers and creatives must work in close collaboration to pinpoint the most fitting software tools for the proposed user interfaces and click/swipe actions — even for small intricacies like tabs, tooltips, lightboxes, and icons.
Heighten It by Lowering It
Determining the principal objective of the app will assist in determining the user experience. This could include assisting a person in making a purchase or supporting them in using a product – the UX should reinforce this. Drafting low-fidelity wireframes on paper and then refining them in Sketch or Photoshop can significantly streamline the process.
In this situation, low-fidelity wireframes were adequate because the app is straightforward and merely needs to adhere to the visual elements of the website.
Organising a short UX test is one approach to obtain useful insights into the effectiveness of the wireframes and user experience (UX) flow. To ensure the test results accurately mirror the potential user experience, it is crucial to pick a test group that represents the target consumers of the product. After the examination, the outcomes should deliver vital insights that can be utilised to advance to the subsequent development phase, which is the construction of a user interface.
Achieving Design Harmony
After making some slight user experience (UX) adjustments, you have all the essential elements to build a comprehensible and well-organised user interface (UI) that can be customised to suit the visual demands of both iOS and Android platforms. As iOS has numerous specific design requirements that may result in your app being disapproved for the Apple App Store, it is crucial to be acquainted with those guidelines and to closely monitor the design process throughout the development phase.
By adhering to established principles and conventions during the construction of the user interface (UI), you can create a unified design that capitalises on the distinctive capabilities of both the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms. This method guarantees that the user experience is maximised on both platforms.
Days 25-30: Crafting Ads That Align with Your Branding
By this point, it is crucial to have developed a logo, branding components, a website, and mobile applications in under 25 days. Nonetheless, there is no room for celebration yet, as there is one more crucial step left to take: generating adverts for social and print media. This is where the initial concept you devised becomes crucial. It is of utmost importance that the advertisements precisely convey the concept and brand image you have established.
By following these guidelines while creating adverts and social media content, you can substantially improve the quality, boost engagement levels, and foster innovation within your visuals.
- Incorporate bold and attention-grabbing colours.
- Featuring cheerful and energetic individuals enhances the vitality and emotions associated with your images.
- Individuals in motion, exuding energy and enthusiasm are always captivating and contribute to the overall feelings conveyed.
Sticking to these guidelines will enable you to produce exceptional visuals for adverts. To ensure consistency in your designs and save time, include the colour palette, font, and other visuals utilised on your website, branding, and applications if relevant.
Avoid Setting Unattainable Deadlines
At times, everyone can err by underestimating the time and effort that a project demands; therefore, it is crucial to plan each phase of the project thoroughly from the outset. Creating objectives and setting feasible, reachable goals that are broken down into manageable segments are crucial to ensuring that the job is executed to a high standard and completed on schedule.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” remarked Benjamin Franklin.
It is crucial to plan in advance and to prepare for the potential of underestimating the time required to conclude a task. While clients may have set deadlines, you need to assess if a project is doable and worth undertaking. Nevertheless, this should not be a reason to avoid challenging tasks that can help you hone your design and time management skills.