Over the years I’ve worked with creatives on projects that include graphic and website design, physical product design, and UX / UI for apps and online platforms.
There are a few ways for a project to go to hell and leave everyone hating the process. The most common is when the ideation doesn’t match the expectation of the client (can be internal or external), even though they might already have approved it.
Anyone who’s managed a project with a design component will recognize the cycle…
- The ideation is approved, but is slightly broad / general
- Creative realizes they have room to stretch and gets excited, or conversely, plays it safe — leading to a 1st draft that is either specific but not what client had in mind, or overly generic
- Client provides extremely detailed feedback on a piece of work they don’t really like, which confuses the process
- Creative gets frustrated trying to fix something client doesn’t like, or creates entirely new draft which may or may not please the client (who by this time isn’t always sure what they want)
The critical moment usually happens between #2 and 3. At this point it’s still fixable but deadlines are tight and depending on how many people are involved there may be some serious frustration.
What has to happen but often doesn’t, is a very timely, concise revisiting of ideation with the end client. You can’t fix wrong or misaligned ideation with more design, no matter how good the concept is to begin with.
One other note: the phrase “end client” is an important one. A good project or product manager can sometimes alleviate confusion between the different people who are involved (brand, legal, marketing, PR, etc.) but whoever will actually own the end result needs to approve the ideation. That doesn’t always happen, and it’s also why big agencies rarely run a tight enough design communication cycle to avoid cost overruns. But that’s a topic for another time.