“I Need This Done… Yesterday”

“I Need This Done… Yesterday”

“Chris, I need business cards… right away.”

Projects that start like this can be a unique experience. In my experience, the job goes out the door, but I am left wondering “what if”.

What if I chose different colors? What if I had done a full font search? What if we used stock photos instead?

It all boils down to one question: what if we had more time, would the design change?

The answer is always the same: Yes, of course.

Of course time affects a design. And even if you work hard to keep the quality high, and even if you have a vast library of design tools and resources you can utilize to maximize the output while saving your client dollars (like freeware fonts, design site created patterns, and creative commons licensed images), at least one thing is always sacrificed in an agile design process. That one thing is decision making.

Decision making: the ability to think-over design decisions before moving forward. Personally, when under the gun, the client gets everything they want. I try to turn off my decision making in order to avoid trampling on a client’s vision.  Afterall, they have had more time to think about a project than I have by that point.  I consider myself a simple tool for my client’s thoughts – a vessel for their inspiration – at least until they ask my input. Then I scramble to build variations on the fly, share them, collaboratively discuss the options, and mold their motivation through the process.  Some would call this a great experience.  I sure hope my clients do. But for me, something is lacking – I am empty after this experience.  Sorry to sound corny, but I feel “used”.

A Clock

Photo taken by Flicker user Steve Grosbois. Reproduced per the Creative Commons license

Often, the end result is less than stellar because of something some clients overlook: not every first thought is the best. Design involves variations and trial and error. Design involves pulling from your experience of thousands of past projects.  Design involves a honed creativity and making a result that is precise and clean. And all of that takes time.

I love clients that come to me last minute.  It means they are thinking of me when things get tough.  I am the person my clients turn-to when they need something done that no one else can do.

But as this post tries to explain, I wish I had the time to remind them to come to me earlier in the process!