Six Tips for Project Efficiency

This week’s University of Magpie masterclass focuses on ways to increase efficiency in projects in order to deliver projects more profitably, and in a way that also makes clients happier.

Becky summarises tips for successful and profitable projects that help us work efficiently and creatively:

Writing the brief

The most important thing about delivering any creative or digital brief is that we achieve our clients’ goals to a high quality, on time and on budget. In order to succeed it is important to be clear about what the outcome of each project needs to be. A great way to do this is to help clients to write their own brief. This allows them to take time out and really reflect on the aims and objectives of a their project.

A well considered brief results in clearer project priorities, which in turn leads to better creative solutions, efficiency of time and skills; and a happier client whose brief is well answered.

Get organised

Delivering a project to optimum efficiency often starts by us helping clients to get organised ahead of a project commencing. This means the brief, all images, content and assets need to be gathered together in advance. Drip feeding content can cause project delays, but more importantly it can affect the overall outcome – not having a clear idea of the assets available makes it harder to deliver a great design.

Break down the brief

Once you have a good brief, success lies in planning and answering it in small chunks. It’s never a good idea to try to solve the whole problem at once. For example for a branding project you might start with establishing the tone, followed by ideas for the name, tackling the colour palette next…you get the gist. Each step you take gives the opportunity to stop and consider progress and build the solution one bit at a time. This prevents time and resource being wasted.

Here’s a great example of this principle:

Sketch it out

Nowadays, many designers like to get stuck in and jump straight onto the mac. But we’re firm believers in the benefit of sharing sketches with our clients – great for efficiency, and checking that what’s in our head is along the lines of what the client might be expecting, before embarking in a lengthy artworking process.

The other benefit – our clients are often creative thinkers too – they want to be involved and help us to develop ideas. Working in collaboration in the early stages means that both parties can agree a route and rough layout before the project continues into more complex stages.

Example of a sketch for efficiency in the design process


Create a flat plan

Wireframing your design or website is a great way to communicate your creative vision to clients, and hits the high notes when it comes to efficiency. We work on lots of publications and digital projects where it is essential to plan out how the content will work in flat form first. But it’s not just multi-page projects where this is great – We encourage this for all other formats too, from posters to billboard to campaigns and events.

The best thing about a flat plan is that it allows us to consider the communication behind the design – is the copy going to create the right kind of experience for a reader? Does it need to be broken down with imagery, or graphics? If we pull out key parts of the text, which will they be? And does the client agree? The flat planning process helps to establish the optimum copy length, content types, page templates, number of pages or even the need for an alternative format or spec. It saves time further down the line, increasing efficiency and most importantly it shows clients that we really care about the outcome of their marketing material.

Flat plans were essential to the successful outcome of this project:

Manage expectations

Finally, we work with all sorts of budgets, big and small. One thing that’s always important – if we agree a certain scope of work, for a certain fee, then we deliver on that promise.

Therefore it’s essential to be clear about the scope of the project and what the outcomes will be, and what the outcomes can’t be.

That’s not to say we can’t achieve great things on a budget, but it may mean there needs to be some limitations in the creative process to get to the final solution. If this is to be the case, it is important to clearly manage expectations so that clients understand the design process, what they can and can’t have, and where the limitations are.

If the budget is tight, it is essential to agree where the trade off might be and how clients can play their part in keeping costs down too. It can be a joint effort, as long as there is good communication.


Join us, same time, same place next week for another University of Magpie session.