Case Study: Optimizing Design Project Management

To get to know our design processes and see the different steps behind it, read our co- founder's, Péter’s post about the workflow at Maform Design Studio.

I work at maformWe are a Budapest-based design studio. The other day, one of our clients asked me what would happen if he didn’t like the outcome of our work. I had no answer to that question because it quite rarely happens; in fact, that sort of thing has not happened to us in the past year, at all.

But why is that — I wondered. It’s not that we never make mistakes or that we can read other people’s minds. But we are generally lazy: we hate unnecessary work. So, we developed our own design process to minimize unnecessary phases and to get rid of development dead-ends. Our experience might be useful to others as well, so here is how we do it.

1/ Agree on the strategic goals first.

We always ask questions first in order to understand the problem and the goals before even thinking about the design. We look for the motivation behind our client’s aspiration. This is not easy, at all — the best one can do is to pay attention to every detail during personal meetings, and then take the time to connect the dots. Later on, this helps to answer some questions on our own, which saves us valuable time.

 

2/ Map the client’s taste.

When we work for a company, we run through the company’s vision and some of their communication materials — there are always plenty of these on the Internet. If we work for an individual or if the assessment depends highly on one of the company’s representatives, we take a look at the car they drive and the clothes and accessories they wear. We pay attention to their introduction, and spend time with asking them about things they like — these should be general preferences, nothing specific: like movies, cars, buildings, newspapers, websites and so on.

3/ We always use pictures to define visuals and emotional qualities.

A picture is worth a thousand words. The reason might sound simple: the words people use to describe abstract concepts like feelings and mood are not corresponding. This means that if two people are asked to envision „futuristic design”, they will come up with different images. They might be similar, but never the same. The more difference there is in their backgrounds, the more differences can be in the images. The solution is easy: we always make a mood board and talk it through with the client before we draw the first lines. This small effort can be a game-changer later!