At Sixth Story, I’m honoured to work with the talented and driven designers in our team. Together, we help businesses design brands, websites and all manner of collateral to help them meet their business goals. Over the decades working in this industry it’s clear to me how designers add value to a brand or a website. It’s also incredibly exciting to handover a brief and watch them at their craft. I’m extraordinarily lucky to work with a bunch of designers who bring that something extra over and above good design. Our philosophy has always been about the client relationship, not the design awards we can win but winning together by working together. 

The design process can be long, there’s back and forth, discussions, communication and an understanding of a common goal. Our designers understand this and always tailor the approach to make the design process work for the client. Speaking up when they don’t think a solution is right and asking questions along the way. A great design team will do five things for you:

1. Share the risk

Clients invest a lot into a project (time and money), whether it’s for rebranding, a new website, an app or a product. Resonating with the target audience, attracting investors or delivering something on time and on budget to stakeholders. There’s a lot at stake. A design team will put you at ease, showing how a proposed solution connects to the brief or goals. The designers are the experts in design but you’re the expert in your business and industry, where that comes together and how you collaborate sets you up for a successful project. 

During our discovery process we ask lots of questions and it’s after this process where clients recognise our intentions are to provide the best solution. We look into strategy, operations and business model – a far wider context that just the creative brief allows our designers to add value. 

2. Understand how you work

Every project and every client is different. Empathising that everyone has their own ways of working and expectations is key to tailoring an approach that works for everyone. We open our doors and show you how our designers work and we’re upfront about the weekly calls or methods of collaborating that we love to use. It’s time intensive, it’s demanding on your resources and there’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes in between the milestones of creative ‘show and tells’. 

3. Let you be a part of the design process

Listening is an important part of a designer’s job. Sharing their technical expertise with you and listening to everything you have to say. At times we might need to bust the jargon or explain how a piece of design relates to a goal and likewise, context and your input into how you do business elevates the process. 

4. Asking what will move the needle

How do you define success for this project? What a tricky and open ended question but a vitally important one. Answering this question with your designer at the outset will mean that your team spends their time doing the things that matter and spending time on the things that will add the most value. We often say that going slow in the right direction is better than sprinting in the wrong direction. Time for planning up front pays its dividends in the long run. 

5. Keep costs in mind

As much as designers understand the costs of running a business, there are direct costs of the project you’re undertaking. Every new feature request, addition, change will need to be designed, built or implemented. Often we suggest something because it will solve a problem. It’s also important for your designers to understand the implications that the small cost of an upfront change may have ramifications in other areas of the business. 

Changing your typeface on your logo might be a marginal change but if you have hundreds of vehicles or uniforms that will need to be updated it has a larger impact. Great designers will bear this in mind and work with you to focus on your priorities and how the goals are met. 

The design process is long, at times it can feel argumentative. From a designer’s perspective, listening to a client’s feedback requires putting self-criticism aside and striving for the best result for the client. Sharing ownership of the success of a project goes a long way and our designers want to make you trust that you’ve made the right decision working with us as a design agency. It’s not just about a beautiful design.