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Gather Information

Before you can start a project you of course need to know what your client needs. Gathering information is the first step of the graphic design process. When approached for a new job, set up a meeting to discuss the scope of the work. Be sure to gather as much information as possible:

Aside from the product your client needs (such as a logo or a website), ask questions such as:

· Who is the audience?

· What is the message?

· How many pages is the piece?

· What are the dimensions?

· Is there a specific budget?

· Is there a deadline for completion?

· Can the client provide examples of design they like?

· Is there an existing corporate brand that needs to be matched?

Take detailed notes, which you can use later for the next step of the design process.

Create an Outline

Using the information collected in your meeting you'll be able to develop an outline of the content and goal of the project, which you can present to your client for approval before proceeding. For a website, include all of the major sections and the content for each. Include the dimensions and technical specifications for print or web work as well. Present this outline to your client, and ask for any changes. Once this is finalized, you know you are in agreement on what the piece will include and can proceed to the next step of the graphic design process.

NOTE: It is at this time that you would provide a proposal to your client as well, including the cost and timeframe for the work, but here we are focusing on the design process.

Harness Your Creativity!

Design should be creative! Before moving on to the design itself (don't worry, that's next) take some time to think about creative solutions for the project. You can use the client's examples of favorite work as guidelines for what they like and don't like, but your goal should be to come up with something new and different that will separate them from the rest (unless of course they specifically asked to fit in). Ways to get the creative juices flowing include:

· Brainstorming: Get together with a group and throw out any and all ideas.

· Visit a museum: Get inspired by the originals.

· Read a book: Something as small as a color or shape in a graphic design book could spark a completely original idea.

· Take a walk: Sometimes its best to get outside and watch the world...you never know what will spark your imagination.

· Draw: Even if you're not an “artist”, doodle some ideas on a page.

Once you have some ideas for the project it's time to start creating a structured layout.

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