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The Power of Enlisting a Graphic Design Project Checklist

April 2, 2020 | Productivity

The human brain loves lists. They’re great; they organize information, they give us quantifiable guidelines and solutions, they’re explicit and easy to digest and they give our brains exactly what they want: answers without effort. Checklists work to keep projects on track by managing complexity and experience. Your graphic design project checklist helps you visualize everything that needs to get done throughout the project while also providing a straightforward order to operations. 

A general tip when creating your checklists throughout the project: break each task down into smaller, actionable tasks. A checklist that says “design page 2 of magazine” is much easier to act on than one that just says “design magazine”. It can also be helpful to break up your graphic design project checklist into the phases of your project, which we’ll talk about below.

Planning Checklist

You’ve pitched and won your project, and now it’s time to get your thoughts in order. There may be some nebulous designs floating around in your head, but you’ll need to consolidate your ideas. Your planning checklist, the first part of your graphic design project checklist, will include things such as the questions you’ll want to ask the client and the references you want to pull for the design. At this point another point on your checklist may also include checking out the client’s other designs and projects more in-depth to get a more solid feel for their preferred style. 

Checklists function to get your thoughts in order, and the planning checklist can set the tone for your entire project. When you consider everything that needs to be done and researched at the beginning of the project and flesh it out as you move into the discovery process with your client, the smoother the rest of the design process will go. 

Client Checklist

Working with the client can be a long conversation where you have to draw out their wants and needs, or a shorter conversation where your client already has their own list ready-made. Either way, you’re hearing their ideas and taking notes about their vision, the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. That’s an easy way to sort this section of your graphic design project checklist – needs and wants. This will help you develop the design without getting lost in the weeds.

This section of the graphic design project checklist can include research tasks – maybe they want you to look at the designs from a particular project of theirs and mimic that style, or they want to hit a new trend that is up-and-coming. 

Design Checklist

Once you’ve got the client’s needs (and wants), along with your own parameters (time, style, etc.), it’s time to work on the design. At this point you’ve already got some ideas of what the final design should look like, but you’ve got so many thumbnails with parts that work and parts that don’t. You can condense those ideas into a design checklist when creating your last round of mockups. Creating a checklist out of your ideas is a great method to increase productivity. Checklists motivate you to complete your project by giving you explicit, bite-sized tasks. Throughout the process, your list also serves as a roadmap, telling you how many steps away you are from reaching your goal. 

There’s not really a checklist for the design process itself – no tidy “check A, B, C and make an amazing design”. Your design checklist is specific to you and functions as a reference to look back to while designing to make sure you’re hitting all of the necessary points the client needs. 

Proofing Checklist

When it comes to your proofing checklist, Ashore has you covered. After all, this isn’t a checklist for you, it’s for your approvers – and it can be difficult to make sure they read and follow the checklist. Ashore’s checklist feature functions as an e-signature, where your clients must acknowledge your checklist prior to submitting their approval. The best part is, the checklist is fully customizable – whether you need your clients to sign off that they’ve checked for spelling or that they’ve done a jig, you can add it and your clients must sign off prior to approval. 

Our proofing checklists benefit both you and your approvers. They may not understand their role in the process, and by giving them a checklist, you’ve erased their uncertainty and reluctance to finish proofing and give their decision. Having clear objectives increases productivity. It also serves as a last minute reminder that they forgot to check the print margins. For you, this ensures that you have a record that your approvers have signed off on all the nitty gritty details, such as graphic placement and spelling. 

The proofing part of your graphic design checklist helps make the approval the final approval – no take backs. 

Final Checklist

After proofing is completed, and the final version approved, the job is still not over. Your final graphic design project checklist covers the end of the project, whether you need to send the print-ready file to the client, print it yourself, or send it to a third party to be published. 

Your final checklist may differ depending on the project, but there should always be one final task on your list: celebrate! Project done, take a deep breath – and then move on to the next one. 

Most of these checklists can be found in your notebook, project management tool, post-it notes, whatever suits you – but when it comes to the proofing checklist, that’s for your approvers, and it’s a lot harder to control. Let Ashore improve your proofing and ensure that your approvers stick to your proofing checklist. Sign up for a free account today, and start sailing the seven seas!

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