This year, we embarked on the challenge of developing our own Professional Standards as a company. These standards focus on the working process in our studio and how a job travels through from start to finish. The process of putting these standards together was a lengthy one but in the end, we are glad we took our time and ensured that what we published was right for us and fit for purpose. Our Professional Standards consists of a two page PDF document that maps out the three stages of a project as it lands with us in studio. We played jobs through in our minds and tried to lock down the steps that we took at each stage that were common to the majority of jobs that we worked on. This gave us a base from which to work from and use as a guideline to apply in our working processes going forward.
Because our work is so varied here at Design Pit, it was difficult to develop a standard for all types of work that are delivered under our roof. As we work in identity and brand, design for print, web, illustration and animation – all of these platforms and media require slightly different working processes as they are being carried out. With this in mind, we decided to focus our standards on the most critical of all, design for print. With print, once something has been printed, it is printed. It has a defined end point where it cannot be undone if an error is spotted after the print is delivered. With things like websites or animations, the designs and artwork can be reaccessed and tweaked at a later point in the unlikely event of errors slipping through the net. A website should be changed to reflect trends in design, changes within a business and changes in SEO algorithms; a website is never finished. Print though, has a definitive end point and once you sign off and commit to printing ten thousand copies of a twenty page brochure, you are then responsible for that job.
With all of this in mind, we used design for print as our base in writing our standard. Our logic was that if we applied these standards to all work then we should mitigate the risk of errors slipping through post-sign off even in web based jobs. These standards are there to give us a framework in our working processes but also to protect clients from missing anything during the proofing stages in a job; effectively we have developed a safety net for all involved in a project. What we must stress is that where the Professional Standards are thorough, considered and well structured, they are by no means full proof and 100% certain to cut out all errors. They rely on all parties involved using them effectively and taking time to read, look and watch a job progress, using each touch point to stop and pay close attention to what is presented at each proof stage. As with anything, human error or neglecting to carry out proper checks is where errors could creep in but we believe that our standards will mitigate the risk of this happening as much as we possibly can.
We mapped out the three stages of a project as 1) Receiving Material from Client, 2) Creation of Job, and 3) Prepress and Print Sign Off. Sub stages within each main stage are then listed on the first page of the document and a Checklist is provided on the second page to demonstrate the flow as we work through a job. The standards are included on every proofing document that we send out and will also be published on our website in the New Year as a downloadable PDF.
Quite a few people will be sat reading this blog thinking, “Ok… But why bother going through this process?”. The answer is quite simple, we are proud of what we do and we want every job that passes out through our door to be as good as it possibly can be and error free. With creative companies like ours, there are very few governing bodies that we can affiliate with without having to jump through lots of hoops and/or spend a big chunk of money for the privilege of having a logo on the bottom of our letterhead and website. Small agencies like Design Pit are often made up of between 4 or 5 core team members and have a relaxed approach to work which is a deliberate ploy to encourage creative thinkers to allow their creative juices to flow on a daily basis. But when it comes to the crunch, business is business and clients want to know that they are working with some of the best creative minds but also with a professional company.
This, is why we wanted to develop our Professional Standards. We want people to know that we are creative, we are relaxed, we do have an open door policy where clients can drop in to chat about work, we do have a lively studio and we like to post Live videos on Facebook during our working day but ultimately, when the heat is on and we need to deliver, we will. Our approach to our work does not compromise our ability to deliver what we say, when we say it and how we said we’d do it.
These standards work on several levels, mitigating the risk of errors, giving a framework for our creative designers to apply in their working processes and showing our clients (new and existing) that we are a professional company that takes pride in our work and builds trust between them and us. Why not take a read of our Professional Standards? Just click here, we’d love to hear your feedback.