This blog is the third and final part of a three-part series titled, Graphic Design Process – The Basics. If you haven’t read the first two parts of the series. You can find links to them at the bottom of this post.
The third and final part of the design process is finalizing your designs and preparing them for presentation. This blog will discuss some steps to making sure your designs are good enough to show to your class and instructor, as well as possibly include in your portfolio.
At this point in your project, you should already have a clear and established direction for your designs. This is all a result of your hard work and weeks and weeks of comps and critiques. The next step you need to take is making sure that you finalize your designs and double-check for any errors that could diminish the impact of your final designs. You don’t want to have spent all this time and effort in creating a beautiful design to lose all of your thunder when someone in your class points out that you misspelled something.
“Good design, when it's done well, becomes invisible. It's only when it's done poorly that we notice it." — Jared Spool
Although I hate to refer to this site, 99Designs has a pretty good blog post on how to finalize your design files before printing/presenting them. Read their post, Prepress Checklist: How to prepare your design for print, for some tips.
Over time you will find problems you had with the designs that you’ve noticed after the fact. Whatever these problems may be, just add them to a checklist that you use at the end of every project. Nothing ruins a project more than a stupid mistake that could’ve been easily avoided if you double checked everything.
A small tip I would like to add is that when you’re going down your checklist, check for one thing at a time. For example, if you’ve designed a book and you’ve told yourself you want to double-check every page for misspelled words, double-check your rags, correct capitalization, page numbering, etc., just pick one of them and check every single page for that one thing. Designers often tend to miss things if they’re checking for everything at once. By checking for one particular thing, you reduce the risk of missing something.
You’re finally done with all your designs and you need to either present them on a screen (website or mobile apps) or print them. Before we discuss the methods of presenting your work, I want to clarify the two places you will present your work. The first place you will present your work is to your class and instructor. Sometimes students and instructors from other classes will come into your classroom on finals day to view the work. The second place you will present your work is on your online (and/or print) portfolio. Now we know where you will present, let’s start talking about how to present your work.
If you’re presenting your work to your class on a screen, you will need to bring whatever devices you designed for to your presentation. Whether it be your phone, laptop, or tablet, you need to make sure your design looks best on what you’re presenting it on. This is something you should’ve thought about early on in the design process. You don’t want to present an app design formatted for a Samsung Galaxy 6 if you’re presenting it on your iPhone 5.
A great tool to use for prototypes (essentially what your final project is) is inVision. inVision is a great prototyping tool that almost all designers use to present their websites and apps. It is really easy to use and can add the “wow” factor to your designs. Odds are that you will be required to use it anyways, so I suggest trying it out now. It’s also good to use while you’re designing your project, so you get a better understanding of how an app or website works.
If you’re presenting your work to your class printed, you need to make sure you’ve been doing a lot of test prints throughout the semester. The colors you see on the screen don’t always translate well to paper. Paper type, paperweight, ink, printer quality, and print settings all contribute to how your designs look on paper.
In the case you’re not presenting your designs in person or have already done so, you might want to consider preparing your designs to be viewed online or in your portfolio. Although you might be tempted to simply upload your files straight from Adobe, you need to start thinking about mockups.
Mockups are design files, typically in Photoshop, that allow you to place your designs in a real-life application. The end result will be an image that gives your design some credibility and context. For instance, if you’ve designed a beer label, you will want to find a mockup of a beer bottle and place your label on the bottle. Although mockups can be very helpful, you might not find one that suits your needs. In this case, you’ll need to work with a photographer to professionally photograph your projects. Keep in mind this will be an additional cost to you, so you need to make sure your designs are perfect before having them photographed.
There you have it! Although there is a lot more to all of these steps, this three part series of Design Process Basics has given you enough insight and overview to be better prepared for your next graphic design project.