Iteration Nation: How to Streamline the Iteration Process

When working with your graphic designer on a project, it is expected that there will be some back and forth. An “iteration” is one round of work which can include either revisions to the design, to the content, or both. While these are expected, they are impossible to predict. Changes can come from higher level folks on the client-side without notice. Reports we’ve designed in excess of 100 pages might have huge amounts of revisions because they have multiple authors or individual contributors have not fully copy-edited their content. The revisions to a project can sometimes require as much time as the initial design itself. So talking with clients about the process and number of iterations is always a good idea.

How to Optimize and Minimize

Extraneous rounds lead to more expense for the client and potential delays, something we all like to avoid. There are a few things for both the designer and client to keep in mind in order to minimize and optimize revisions:

  1. Set clear direction & timeline: At the very beginning of a project, it is extremely important to consult with your designer to establish a clear direction, clarify any questions either of you may have, and establish the timeline. When getting all of these details in order, you are setting the project up for success by reducing the number of uncertainties. During the consultation, the direction, look, and feel of the design will be discussed. Your designer may ask you to provide images of designs you like and don’t like to get an idea of your desired aesthetic. The audience is also a crucial element in the direction of the design so discuss your target market with your designer. Colors, fonts, page size and orientation are also discussed at this time to gain as much clarity as possible for both client and designer.
  2. Content: The level at which the content is finished will direct a good portion of the timeline of the project. The most ideal situation is to have completely final content at the time of design. If the content is not final, get it as close to final as you can before submitting to your designer so that there aren’t multiple rounds to revise. The least ideal situation would be to not have any content ready to go. In that case, you can give your designer a big leg up if you know at least the different levels of information and the approximate length of each section. By providing this high-level information, you’re allowing your designer to prepare for the final text. But expect that the estimated content might not be exactly like the final, which may lead to a reworking of the design.

There is a big difference between “content revisions” and “changes to the design”. When submitting revisions to the content, all changes can be tracked on a marked-up pdf. By marking up a pdf, it will make the location and content of your changes very clear to the designer. However, if there are revisions to a design, these are best discussed in a live conversation with your designer so that all questions can be clarified and options can be talked through.

Setting up a realistic timeline is an important consideration from the beginning. Depending on the complexity and length of the content, brochures, websites, logos, and reports will all have different timelines. With each round, be clear with your feedback, make sure you consolidate feedback from various internal stakeholders, give specific and detailed revisions. The more clarity, the less room for confusion.

Who is present at the review meetings is also important. If all stakeholders are not apprised of where the design and content are in the overall phases, they could submit their input late in the process. This could completely throw off the design, content and timeline of the entire project.

Finally, trust your designer. They have experience with the process, they will ask the necessary questions and make valuable suggestions along the way. By taking all of these factors into consideration, the design and iteration process will be focused and organized.