Checklist for Designers working with Clients

Working as a designer sometimes means working under pressure to unrealistic deadlines. Navigating thru a tight deadline can be tricky. A few of my projects lately have been just that. Time frames that should be unheard of, expectations that are just out of this world. When faced with such a dilemma, it’s important to push back on the client. Make them realize exactly what they are responsible for delivering to you in-order for you to deliver the final product to them.

Following is a checklist of what a designer should ask from the client. Please feel free to make suggestions. This is a work in progress.

  • What is the timeframe? Any idea of the budget or allocated time is helpful in determining the amount of effort required, the level of detail, the actual deliverables and the number of revisions which are achievable?

  • Will wireframes be included? Is the client responsible for supplying wireframes of the screens to be designed or will you be responsible for producing these? If so, what format do they need to be supplied? Do they need to be annotated? Are wireframes necessary for the sign-off process before design begins? Do you need the client to supply wireframes in order to deliver your assets within the timeframe or do you need to allocate more time to develop & deliver wireframes?
  • What are the expected deliverables? What environment do they need to be delivered in? Consideration of any other elements such as a logo design and color scheme?

(Example 1. Web-page design: high fidelity mock-ups, or built html pages styled with CSS? How many pages need to be designed: prototyped/mocked-up? Examples of pages i.e. A home page, a content page and a search results page? How many elements need to be designed on the page (i)framework i.e. branding banner & navigation, menu & footer. (ii) Page elements i.e. tables, data presentation, imagery, lists, specialized elements like accordion menus, tab menus or pagination. Example 2. An application design: How many screens? What steps need to covered? High fidelity mock-ups or a working prototype? (sketchflow?) List the specific controls that will be designed eg. Buttons, labels, dropdowns, checkboxes, all on & off states. Happy to keep these elements standard for a first round design, or do they want to see a specific styling skins designed and built? What is the target screen resolution? What is the minimum screen resolution restricted to?)

  • What is the sign off process? How many stakeholders are involved in the sign-off on this project? Who are they? What is the cut-off date for each sign-off stage? How many revisions have been allowed for within the timeframe? (Example of a sign-off process: Wireframe production, sign-off wireframes –> Initial mock-up design, feedback, revision of mock-ups, sign-off mock-up designs –> UI build, test, then sign-off –> Project completion)

Documentation and files:

  • Is there a UI Standards document? Is there a branding guidelines document? Will the client be providing the logo (in vector format) and the corporate font? If not, can we charge the customer to purchase the font? Is there a fallback font? Is there any high-level functional requirement documentation available? i.e. What purpose will the application or site serve for the user? A list of tasks, application flow or sitemap? What are the current processes adopted by the user? What improvements are hoped to be achieved? Any samples of marketing material or previous designs and what worked and what didn’t.

Build specific:

  • What environment is the project to end up? (web, intranet, .Net/ aspx, html/css, sharepoint site, Flash, Silverlight, Desktop app, Mobile app.. etc..?) What browsers/devices need to be considered? What level of support are we providing for each browser/device? What accessibility standards do we need to adhere to? Do we need to deliver W3C compliant code? Who are you trying to target? Who is the target audience?
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