Graphic Design Process: Tips from an Expert Designer

Want an inside look into our foolproof graphic design process? We've asked one of our best designers for tips and insights that clients & designers can use!

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

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Each person has their own graphic design process. Still, we trust our own designers have a lot of valuable knowledge to offer. Why? Because they deliver top-notch designs daily. So, we've asked one of our own, "what is your graphic design process" and got some helpful tips!

ManyPixels is an unlimited design service with dozens of skilled designers on our team. Although they have diverse skills and experiences, our designers are used to delivering high-quality graphics fast.

Since they work with multiple clients, they have a refined graphic design creative process that allows them to design more efficiently without compromising on quality.

Whether you're a designer or a client looking to understand "what is the creative process in graphic design," this article is for you.

We've asked Bojan Budjarovski, one of our designers, "what is your graphic design process" and here are some of the best graphic design process tips we've gathered.

Before we get into it, let's quickly explain the main graphic design process steps and why they are essential.

What is the creative process in graphic design?

From the client's perspective, it may seem like a two-step process: idea and finished design. In reality, at least twelve graphic design process steps are vital to ensure the initial idea aligns with the final result.

Here's a lightning-quick guide to graphic design creation!


Of course, it goes without saying that you needn't wait for the design to be finished. With every variation, you should ask clients for feedback (even though they may not always offer it). Therefore, it's handy to keep track of all the previous versions of a design project. This way, the designer and client can easily track the changes and check whether revisions have been made according to the client's requests.

This sometimes works, but asking for additional feedback is a clever tactic. You don't need to pester your clients with questions about every aspect of the design or part of the process. But, if appropriate, you may want to inquire about their favorite thing about the design or where they feel improvements can still be made.

After numerous graphic design process steps and days of work, all you want to do is send over the final draft and mark the task as completed. Right?

Of course, stick to the style, and any guidelines established earlier. If you suddenly present something vastly different, you risk confusing the clients and going back several graphic design steps to pursue a totally different art direction (which could easily miss the mark in the end).

Remember when we advised you against too many choices? Well, few clients will ever be content with a single variation. It's usually only a few minutes of work, making all the difference for your client-designer relationship. Offer a few variations of color and font choices and a different layout if applicable.

ManyPixels clients create a design brief by filling in a form, so it's easier to include any necessary information. Still, further clarification is sometimes needed. These are some of the things Bojan typically asks clients after the brief has been submitted:

This might be the most important of all the graphic design process steps. While it's the client's job to provide a helpful design brief, the designer must identify any missing information before the start of the design process.

  1. Market research: get to know the client's industry and competitors; what are the key messages they want to send, and what are some relevant trends?
  2. Get to know the client: understand what makes this business unique.
  3. Define the problem: each piece of design should solve a specific problem/send a particular message.
  4. Study the brief: after receiving the creative brief, a designer must ensure they have all the relevant information and ask for clarification if something is unclear.
  5. Agree on a timeframe & deliverables: set up a plan of action, so the client knows what to expect and when.
  6. Create a mood board: compile ideas and inspiration to settle on a style and feel for the design.
  7. Develop a concept/first draft: create a rough look of the design.
  8. Get feedback: ask the client to approve the draft; check if everything is clear and the message is coming across clearly.
  9. Design: create the polished look of the design with all the necessary design elements.
  10. Internal review: before submitting to the client, check that the design fulfills all the predefined criteria (quality assurance).
  11. Make revisions: there's usually at least one minor tweak needed to create a design a client is 100% happy with.
  12. Deliver the results: make sure everything is named and organized correctly (including previous versions) and submitted to the client.

And that's it! Following these steps will undoubtedly put your design process on the right track. However, as a design company with thousands of happy clients, we're also able to offer some exclusive tips on how to make the regular design process even better!

Of course, to get the full scoop, we turned to a real pro: one of our ManyPixels designers, Bojan Budjarovski.

Graphic design process tips from a ManyPixels designer

Now that you know about the graphic design process in general let’s take an exclusive look at how things work at ManyPixels.

We’ve asked one of our top designers, Bojan Budjarovski, “what is your graphic design process.” Here are some of the helpful tips and insights that he’s shared.

Brief proofreading

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  • Can you provide an example of a design you like?
  • Can you describe your industry in a couple of sentences?
  • What do you want to achieve with this design?
  • What file formats do you need?

Starting the graphic design process with a crystal-clear brief is necessary to ensure smooth sailing thereon. Moreover, asking questions at this stage also helps clients to define their expectations and makes the subsequent creative process much more efficient.

Decide on a style upfront

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"I want to see options" - that's a sentence we hear a lot.

While options are not bad, creating numerous designs in vastly different styles is always counterproductive. It confuses the client and the designer and makes it easy to lose track of the design's purpose.

Of course, it's always helpful that clients have their brand's visual guidelines, which the designer can stick to. If this is not the case, it's imperative to decide on a visual style, even before any sketching is done.

A style choice doesn't just influence the colors, fonts, and imagery. It also influences the layout, and the overall feel the design is supposed to convey.

If clients are unsure what style they like, the designer should present them with a few options. Show how their competitors approach the issue and suggest how this approach could be improved. Provide clients with designs from a different field/industry (ideally from your own portfolio) that you feel have a fitting style.

Always start with the layout

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There's so much more to the graphic design creative process than just the finished product. Unfortunately, as every designer knows, this is not something the client always recognizes.

Once they submit a request, clients want polished results; they want to comment and revise minor elements such as color, scale, or typography. But they often forget the skeleton keeping the entire design project together: the layout.

Always start from the layout and, if applicable, get the client's opinion on it. If the project is complex, help them understand "what goes where" and how the elements will work together to achieve the intended purpose.

Many clients will overlook the layout; it's your job to draw attention to the significant parts of it and offer variations where possible.

Get feedback on the first sketch/draft

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Yes, your clients want designs back as soon as possible. But that doesn't mean you should skip vital graphic design process steps.

Crafting a project's first draft or graphic design sketches is a much greater task than adding finishing touches and delivering the final product. A first draft should be as polished as possible and delivered in the least amount of time.

Sounds challenging? It most certainly is. At ManyPixels, we pride ourselves on the very speedy turnaround. Thanks to the routine and the large number of requests we're dealing with, this is something we can typically deliver on.

However, open and honest communication is vital for a smooth graphic design process. If you need an additional day (or half a day) to deliver a superb first draft, you should communicate with your project manager/client and ask if this is possible. On the other hand, if you're delivering a rougher first draft than it should be, explain why that is and highlight the features that still need extensive work.

Don’t multitask

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Right: it's time to debunk a productivity myth, at least regarding the graphic design creative process.

Nothing harms efficiency as much as a divided focus. As a designer working on multiple projects, I've  experienced a fair share of pressing deadlines and, occasionally, an overload of tasks. The only way out is to take one task at a time and not stop until it's finished.

Fortunately, our request system at ManyPixels allows clients to prioritize tasks, so designers always know which one is the most pressing. It's a simple drag-and-drop system, and we always advise clients to revise their queue at the beginning of each working day.

Suppose you've done 98% of the work on a previous task, but the client has suddenly changed their queue and put another task as the top priority. What then? Jump straight into the new task and ensure it's delivered on time! It'll be easy to finish the previous task later, and the client will be happy with the two tasks delivered on time.

If you try to work on both simultaneously, you'll likely miss the deadline for the new, urgent request. On the other hand, the first request might get finished, but with a divided focus, you'll probably overlook some finishing touches. This means you will need to implement further revisions, thus wasting more of your and your client's time.

Have a daily plan of tasks

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This is one of those graphic design process steps that a regular in-house designer might overlook, but it's paramount for ManyPixels designers. When you work with multiple clients on various projects daily, you must have superb time-management skills and a precise plan of action for every working day.

If you're a young designer just starting to get a feel for your graphic design creative process, it's better to start with fewer tasks. This will enable you to create high-quality work and a solid routine (no "leftover" tasks to weigh you down).

As you get more experienced, you'll be able to work faster and deliver high-quality work in less time.

Provide regular ETA & report on issues

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When you start working with a client, they might ask you to describe your typical design process and methods. If you tell them you "prefer to get on with your work" and report back only with something close to finished, they'll instantly see a red flag.

Nothing harms the graphic design process as much as miscommunication. The best way to prevent that is to update your clients regularly on the estimated completion time. Here's a foolproof way to provide daily updates:

  • Say what's been worked on the previous day.
  • Outline all the tasks you have planned for the day.
  • Report any problems or issues (such as unavailable font, hanged copy disrupting the layout, etc.)
  • Give an ETA taking into account the issues and planned tasks.

Offer choices

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Set up a quality assurance checklist

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Another major perk of working for an unlimited graphic design company like ManyPixels? The sophisticated quality assurance system. Not only does it help you to deliver better work - but it also teaches you how to "proof" your own designs before sending them to someone else.

If you don't have a project manager on hand, here are a couple of valuable criteria you may wish to apply to any design project.

  • Customer requirements: does the design fulfill all the client’s wishes and requests?
  • Acceptance criteria: are there any mistakes, such as spelling, incorrect alignment, spacing, etc?
  • Performance criteria: was the design delivered in the correct time frame, and are all the files adequately labeled and organized?

Whether you're checking your own work or a client vetting a graphic designer - these criteria can be fantastic signposts to guide you toward quality designs that fulfill the intended purpose.

Ask for feedback

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Think big

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This is a vital lesson for all design newbies. Design involves many elements and details, so losing track of the big picture is very common.

Far from being that details are unimportant. If you've ever seen a DIY design where the alignment is "just slightly off," you know what I'm talking about. Nevertheless, if you find yourself reworking several details multiple times, this could seriously slow down the graphic design process. Moreover, adding too many details to a design (as many clients often request) can disrupt the layout and prevent the graphics from sending the right message and fulfilling the purpose.

Although you should respect your client's wishes, remember that you're still the professional. Trust the design process and make a stand, if necessary. Clients will thank you later.

We hope you liked this little insight into one of our own designer's creative process. Keen to work with Bojan or any other of the talented graphic designers on our team? Start your ManyPixels subscription today! Or book a free 1:1 demo consultation to learn more about the service.

Want an inside look into our foolproof graphic design process? We've asked one of our best designers for tips and insights that clients & designers can use!

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