The Design Process

Every graphic designer follows their own process, but the following description covers the basic steps you can expect. If you have questions, please contact me at 503-544-9043 or amy@amychandesign to discuss in more detail.

The Contract

After the client selects the design firm that best meets its needs, the design firm provides a contract outlining cost, time line and practices. Clients need to read this carefully, and ask about anything that doesn't seem clear before signing. Clients should also work with a professional copywriter; ask the designer for suggestions if needed.

The Kickoff

If possible, arrange a kick-off meeting to allow the client to meet the design team, confirm the direction, and provide any additional information in text or visual form.

The Initial Presentation

At the initial presentation, the client should expect to see comprehensive layouts representing the key points and having the look-and-feel outlined in the preliminary discussions and notes. This may include placeholder copy and images for the time being. If the presentation is far off the mark, now is the time to discuss how to get back on track. More likely, the client will be pleased with the presentation and select a direction to pursue.

Phase Two

After the designer has approval to proceed on a direction, the process moves forward. If final copy hasn't already been provided, it should be supplied now. Subsequent presentations should narrow in quickly to the final design, with only minor edits as the project nears completion. The designer may contract with an artist to either create custom content, pay a fee to re-purpose existing art, or use stock imagery. If custom art is commissioned, the designer will provide the artist with the copy, schedule, budget and art direction. Illustrators will provide sketches, get approval, and proceed with final direction. Photography can be simple table-top shots or complicated location shots with models, props and stylists. This is very important: client should be aware that the later in the process changes are requested, the more costly they are to implement. Change orders may be issued, depending on the initial agreement.


When the client has signed off on the final version, the designer prepares the file for printing or posting. This phase will not require as much input from the client, but there always needs to be a final sign-off after the client has proof-read all text and checked all images to their satisfaction. As a courtesy to the client, the designer may review the materials to the best of their ability, although the final responsibility rests with the client.

The Post-Mortem

A post-mortem discussion is an opportunity to review the process and share what went right, what went wrong, and how to do it better the next time. Ideally, the client, designer and artist have developed a working relationship that will continue, and a post-mortem can help everyone have a smoother and even more successful experience the next time.

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