Kill the Mosquitoes in Your Design Process.

This time of year we’re swarmed by mosquitoes. The bloodsucking beasts seem to take all the joy out of an otherwise great evening outdoors. So I slap on that disgusting slop with Deet. But every time I go through the bite-smack-bite-smack-bite routine, I’m always reminded of the best way to get rid of them: by preventing them from being there in the first place.

There are always things I should have done to prevent them, but I don’t stay on top of it. Maybe its laziness. Maybe I have other things to do. Maybe I have a million other things to do. Whatever the reason, my lack of determination against this pest always comes back to bite me in the end. Literally and figuratively.

In the design process there are many “mosquitoes” lurking around. It doesn’t matter if it is a website or a logo. These common pitfalls can just destroy an otherwise great experience. Again, the key here is prevention. And here’s how to stop the little buggers:

Talk it out
If there’s ever a reason for a design to fail, a lack of communication between a Client and Designer tops the list. Spending the extra time up front discussing your needs will prevent time consuming and costly changes in the future. Keep the lines of communication open throughout the entire process to keep things on track. Schedule meetings on iChat. Make regular checkpoints along the way to make sure everything is progressing as it should. Talk talk talk.

Make a Decision
It’s always better to decide and refine your idea than to stall the process.  So take a chance and make a choice. If you are wrong, so what? You will have much more time to make changes. But the idea is to keep moving forward and trust your Designer to lead you in the right direction. Not only will quick decision-making help nail your deadline, but it will free you up to focus on other things key to your success.

Be On-Point
Decisions by committee always result in a watered down design. This is not anyone’s fault. When there are more than one or two people involved in the process, sacrifices are made to make everyone happy. What suffers? The design. So pick one person in your company and give them the power to make the final choice. Make sure they have the time to commit to the process as well. You will always wind up with a better and more unique solution.

Pay the Piper
If you pay your Designer quickly, I can guarantee that your problems will be the first to be addressed. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you will be surprised at how much a payment within 7 days will be appreciated. You may pay some of your other vendors at 45 or 90 days, but these are usually larger businesses with a much bigger cash flow.

Set a Date
If your Designer didn’t present a formal timeline, work with him or her to create one. A realistic timeline is key to making sure everything stays on schedule and on budget. Understand that YOU are usually the key factor in holding up the design process, so make sure you do your part. This sets expectations, avoids conflict and increases communication.

Follow this advice and you are sure to have a job well done. You can’t get rid of every “mosquito” in the design process, but you can prevent most of them. Attack them early and often. Don’t be lazy. Work at it now to avoid the swarms of problems that are sure to hatch. You may not have Deet to save you later on.

Image by tanakawho via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

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