8 Tips for Managing Creative Design Projects [Plus Useful Tools]

Just like in any business or career, effective management is important in order to secure project success. Understanding the differences of every person and moving them to work together under a given set of goals and timelines would help toward accomplishing projects, big or small.

Graphic design projects, however, are a bit challenging because creative work is not easily measured. In an environment where there is a need for innovation, a clash of ideas is inevitable, and maintaining timelines could be difficult.

But although design projects are especially disruptive, this does not mean that there are no solutions that can address this problem. In this article, we will give you tips on how to manage graphic design projects and provide you with tools so that you can manage your design workflow more effectively.

15 Tips and Tools for Managing Creative Design Projects

1. Define Your Vision and Mission and Stick to It

Every business has its own vision and mission. When building a design company or business, these two are the first, most important things that need to be defined. Your mission and vision statements will be a guide for decision-making. These will also keep your team aligned, working for the same purpose, and striving to achieve the same goals.

In a creative environment, you will encounter a lot of creative graphic design ideas, concepts, and insights. Most of the time, you will be conflicted about which design would work better and what kind of message will be more effective to resonate with people. You might be swayed and confused with radical or revolutionary ideas, but by going back to your mission and vision, you can decide whether they’re acceptable or not and can preserve your integrity as a designer.

2. Learn to Understand Your Team’s Strengths and Help them Learn Yours

It is good to note that not everyone can perform as much as you do or you can always outperform others. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and you must understand that. By knowing this, you can assign the right people on specific projects and you can take advantage of learning from each other’s strengths.

Also, find out how everyone in your team operates. The times when they’re productive can vary and the tasks that they execute can render different results. With this, you’ll know what to expect and you can develop good goals and timelines that produce quality results.

However, adjusting to your employees at the expense of compromising discipline and effort among them is not good. If your employees are not productive at all and can’t produce the results expected of them despite trying to understand their weaknesses, that is when you should question their commitment and know what bothers them.

3. Organize and Plan

Project management involves organizing, planning, designing/structuring, and addressing the risks that may happen during the whole project execution duration. These are the things that must be considered throughout any particular design job, or else things start to fall through the cracks.

To organize and plan your project, you must always begin by asking about the objective and the requirements of the clients: What and for whom is the design for? Who will look at the design? What is its purpose? What message should it communicate? When is it needed?

Once you finish answering these and getting the other requirements from the client, you can proceed with developing the project plan. That’s where you take an inventory of activities (both big and little – often the lesser chores get swept under the carpet) and put them all together in a timetable that meets your and the client’s demands.

List out every task that is needed to be done before and until the end of the design phase. This includes the procurement of materials (if necessary), preparing necessary documentation, mock-up design and presentations, designing first drafts, second drafts, and the final designs, and deployment. Read for more on SEO project plan

By knowing the tasks that come with every design project phase, you will know the right person/s to assign. Play to your team’s strengths, and use the opportunity for others to learn from it as well.

4. Clearly Define the Cost, Scope, and Time

This is where you must match the client’s expectations with what your team is capable of. By defining how much you pay for a specific design project, your limits on up to what service you can provide, and the expected date/time you can accomplish the project, you and your client can come up with an agreement that works for both parties.

5. Define Your Main Milestones

Milestones serve as soft deadlines throughout a project. They assist you in determining if you are on track or not. Consider when you’ll stage feedback, when you’ll do halfway-point check-ins, and when that design will be completed so you can move on to other remaining tasks and goals.

6. Set up Folders, Communication Portals and Create Necessary Worksheets

Create new folders for your project and ensure that everyone has access to everything in one location. Pick out a tool or specify the communication portal that you will use for the project. Create worksheets or use a tool that will help you and your team see your project plan and all the remaining and ongoing tasks.

This will help keep your team organized and your files are kept in one place for easy access and backup.

7. Always Communicate with Stakeholders

Don’t abandon your clients. Maintain constant contact and communication with all parties involved. Mistakes usually when there is a lack of communication, therefore prevent this by remaining connected at all times.

For your team, regular check-ins are essential for keeping everyone on the same page. A fast round allows your team to communicate what they’re working on, where they’re at, and what they’re going to accomplish next.

8. Delivery, Feedback, and Debriefing

The project is almost completed, and you’re almost ready to tie it up in a tidy little bow and archive it forever. However, graphic design project management does not cease when the brief is satisfied. In reality, the aftermath of a project is the ideal moment to determine what worked, what didn’t, and how to operate a smoother ship the next time.

Gather your team and discuss what went well and what may have gone better. Were there any missteps along the road that you could prevent the next time?

Improving your design project management process is critical to providing a smooth experience for both your team and your clients in the future. After all, who doesn’t want clients to leave with a spring in their step, yelling about how wonderful their experience was?

Tools for Creative Design Projects

Graphic design tools are essential to keep a steady workflow. They help you organize, communicate, be kept informed of the project status, and they help make your work faster, and easier.

The following tools are some of the best ones that can keep your tasks on track, improve your workflow, and help ensure the success of your design project.

1. Trello

Trello is an awesome project management tool that allows you to track your project progress with cards. You can list your different tasks there, date them and sort them according to your own criteria. The application is a generator of digital post-its.

The tool stands out for its ease of use and ergonomics. Even the free version is quite comprehensive in terms of features. In addition, Trello promotes collaborative work. Cards can be shared between different members of a team in real-time.

2. Removal.AI

Removal.AI is a smart tool that uses artificial intelligence to remove the background from photos. Design usually needs photos and sometimes, photos with a transparent background so you can use it with the rest of the design elements. All you need to do is to upload the image and the processes automatically in less than a second.

The results are amazing, especially on well-defined subjects and the best thing is that you can use this tool for free.

3. Monday

Monday is a project management tool that you can use to manage your design team and the tasks that you perform. It helps with planning and execution so that you can achieve your results on time. This tool also has good features that will keep you productive like time tracking, calendar views, and automated notifications.

With monday.com, you can simplify your project and update your tasks in just a few clicks. Its completeness in functionality makes it one of the most popular organizational software on the market. The starting price for the paid version is €2400 per month. Users are given a trial period to test its functionality.

4. Asana

In terms of organizational software, Asana is one of the best. The tool brings together key features that allow you to create accurate and efficient planning tables. Indeed, it is possible to impose deadlines, import files or assign tasks to team members.

Each project page also has a messaging interface facilitating interactions between the users involved. The application also benefits from a clean design with an architecture that is pleasant to use. Another advantage of Asana is its great connectivity. Indeed, this software package can interact in an agile way with other tools such as the Office Pack, Google Calendar, or Slack.

5. Pixelied

Pixelied is a great platform for graphic designers. It has a wide collection of design templates for almost every design material: social media posts, banners, posters, etc.

For designs that don’t need illustrations and elements that need to be made from scratch, Pixelied can help you with that. With premade templates, a diverse collection of fonts, and free images, you can accomplish simple designs faster.

6. Icons8

Icons8 is a Canva alternative that also allows you to create awesome designs. It has good features where you can just drag and drop the elements you need and can work easily with layers.

It also has a lot of free images and you can use thousands of fonts that you can test and experiment with your design. Easily share and deploy your designs on social media with their social share buttons.

7. ClickUp

All the stages of a project can be compiled in ClickUp, including the resources and data necessary for the teams to move forward. Exchanges between employees can also be done directly thanks to the integrated messaging system. The goal of this software package is to optimize processes so that users save time. They will also be able to customise the interface as they wish.

With exceptional design project management, you can keep clients and creatives happy.

Managing a creative design project is challenging but at the same time, it can be enjoyable. Being able to learn a lot from different people and their expertise, and experiencing easy to tough projects are worth the challenge.

The trick is to ensure that everyone is on the same page by playing to your team’s strengths, scheduling even the simplest chores, and keeping lines of communication open. Using tools can also help improve your workflow and keep all your tasks on track.

With exceptional leadership and design project management, you can surely succeed and achieve your teams’ goals and especially satisfy your clients.