Communication design projects are collaborative efforts. Clients have deep knowledge about the story, and the design team knows about audiences, organizing messages, and delivering ideas through different channels. Like all collaborations, there’s a risk of misunderstandings, bogus assumptions, and mismatched expectations. Here are seven simple ideas about ways that clients can reduce the risk of their project going off the track.
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1. Share source wisely
Your team of writers and designers need source materials to understand your story. Here are two practices to improve results and avoid wasting time.
2. Don’t dribble
First, share all the relevant source at the start. Give the team everything you have that might help make them wise about every facet of the story. Don’t release source in waves. That takes more time to organize and understand. Let your team have everything at the same time so they can absorb it all at once.
Write notes about WHY you are sharing specific source materials. If it is a bad example of something, say so. If you want the team to see one slide from a complete presentation, it’s okay to share the whole presentation for context, but attach a note to the first page to say, “See timeline on slide 32.”
4. Mark up precisely
What exactly do you want? Make change requests clear. Write your instructions on the proof, add them electronically to a PDF, or write an email describing specifics for each page. Here are two ideas to keep in mind.
5. Consolidate changes
When the team gives you a draft and you share it with colleagues, integrate their feedback. By consolidating changes and refinements from all the people who reviewed the draft, you can leave out inappropriate ideas and clarify comments that are imprecise. More important, you can eliminate any conflicts between edits that ask for opposing changes. For example, reviewer A says: Include list of deliverables in this paragraph. Reviewer B says: Eliminate this paragraph. Tell the team which edit to make.
6. Ask for help
If you’re not sure what you want and need help to think it through, say so. For example, it’s okay to include markup that says, “Need help here. How can we stress speed without making a specific time commitment?” Your team can help you explore alternatives and propose solutions. But when you say something vague, like “refine” or “fix,” the team can’t begin to help you.
7. Communicate changes fast
It’s inevitable—some projects will be forced to change direction before they reach the finish line. Business leaders may shift priorities, regulators may change the rules of the game, or competitors may shake up the marketplace. The trick is to share these developments with your team instantly. The team has experienced changes like this before. They won’t be shocked. Spill the beans.
But if you sit on this news, perhaps waiting for the next check-in meeting or waiting for the specifics of the discombobulation to become clear, you are wasting the team’s time and may be billed for work that might not get used. A true partner will reveal all news right away. Secrecy undermines your credibility with the team and will poison the relationship.
Office collaboration: Share the right information