9 surprising things about how we make our design projects
In 2019 our small team at Embacy completed over 50 landing pages. Such efficiency was only possible because we have a clear and refined process.
1. Transparency before the work starts
- At the very first meeting, I show our Figma file sof our completed projects to the potential client. I go into detail about the wheres, whats, and whys. Most of our clients are tech companies, so the experience from previous projects can be applied easily.
- I write huge emails with 12–19 points about what we agreed upon: the final result and the limitations(i.e.the 1024 px iPad version won’t look good due to Webflow restrictions.)
- I go into detail about our day-by-day process at least for the first sprint.
2. Transparency in the process
- At the end of the first day, the client gets access to Figma. They can hop on any time to see what we are working on at the moment.
- We send status emails at the end of each business day: what we finished and what we’re gonna do next.
- Host daily morning calls to discuss what was done yesterday.
- New day — new Figma frame. This way you can see what was accomplished each day.
3. One project — one designer
Multitasking = evil. We have our designers working only one project at a time. This lets them have a deeper understanding of the product,improvesfocus and helps make well-informed decisions.
4. Pay for sprint, not the result
Thanks to our transparent approach, we get paid on a sprint basis, however we do guarantee results as long as the client follows our process requirements. For example, we almost always design a full landing page in a week or two (though some clients prefer to make it a month).
Everything really depends on a client. Whether they have an existing brand identity and marketing analytics, are their incoming requirements clear, how long is the decision-making chain on their side and other similar conditions.
5. Project manager handles everything
We don’t have an art director or copywriter. Our project managers are responsible for how to get to the ideal final result. In this process they are aided by the COO, who helps with finances and legal stuff and Senior Designer, who helps with visual consistency. Copywriting is also the project managers job, though the results have to get approval of both co-founders (one of whom is a native English speaker).
6. It’s OK to say NO to projects
«How free are we in making creative decisions?» is the most important question in our brief. Before the project starts, we ask our clients to rate our freedom on a scale of 1 to 5: no freedom at all, to Embacy doing our thing and being fully responsiblefor the result. If we get a grade lower than «3» we don’t take the project. One time we made an exception and paid for it. It turned out to be the most demotivating project of the year so we don’t accept such clients that don’t trust us.
Trust is the most important element of a successful project, and we like to succeed. It’s common for agencies to reject projects by drastically increasing the price, however I think that’s a bad approach in the long run. I like to honestly say why we can’t work together.
7. We don’t present concepts
After two internal brainstorms, we send three concepts in Figma with a short cover letter. The next day we have a call to discuss them. Before the call,client’s team has time toreviewand discuss what we’ve made. We do it this way because a good concept should be understood in about 10 seconds.
8. Working with the decision maker
Working with us involves daily decision-making. In the approval process we go from general to specific:
- final style;
- landing and other pages logic;
- screens layout and illustration sketches;
- draft and final text;
- front-end and animations.
Working together with the person who doesn’t make the final decision is difficult.
9. No to group chats!
In the beginning of 2019, our projects were managed in Telegram. We’ve seen it as a more modern and convenient solution compared to emails, however after a series of communication struggles and difficult projects we completely banned messengersfrom our system.
Group chats suck because following of ten happens on the client’s side:
- Bad decisions are made, since typing up a message in chat requires less concentration as opposed to writing an email. We need our clients to be focused and mindful while giving feedback.
- Collective responsibility is a lack of responsibility.
And from an agency perspective:
- Decision-making hierarchy is unclear: when chat is full of opinions it’s hard to distinguish the ones that matter from the ones that don’t.
- It’s hard to understand whether a message is just an idea or a decision that needs to be acted upon.
- Nobody really needs that extra layer of communication.A project manager has daily morning calls and evening status emailsto take care of. Clientscan see Figma in real time any time they like,which ismore than enoughto keep the progress clear.
I’ll be more than happy if you test some of our process tip sand/or suggest we try something out.
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