10 ways to avoid design project mishaps

August 6th, 2014 / Together

Together Account Manager Dan Walker gives his tips on avoiding making a monument to the wrong person

I recently stumbled across this story about a public art project in Ottawa, intended to celebrate a local man who mended broken hockey sticks and gave them away to neighbourhood children. As it turns out, the design consultant involved in the project based his installation on the life of a completely different person of the same name, leaving the city with a bemusing artwork with absolutely no relevance – badminton rackets instead of hockey sticks:

Wrong-Jack-Purcell_073129836499Picture via Vocativ

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We all make the odd mistake here and there, but how can this possibly have happened? Surely there was an initial design brief, meetings along the way and budget discussions for the spec of the installation…? Maybe not.

Here are our tips to avoid delivering design project mishaps of such epic proportions.

  1. Understand your client
    What are their objectives, what is their structure, how do they work?
  2. Add value when you can
    Demonstrating to clients that you can think beyond what they have asked for, or going the extra mile, will always go down a treat.
  3. Empathise with your client and their situation
    There will always be a reason why a client has asked you to do something, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. Be there to support them and be their extra pair of hands.
  4. Detail, detail, detail…
    Detail in the brief (so your art installation is on the right guy!), detail in what the client wants, detail in how it will be monitored and measured.
  5. Share knowledge
    Between your own team and with the client. Only as one large team will you really understand one another and allow the relationship to flourish.
  6. Don’t try and sound too clever
    You will either get caught out (yes, there really are people more intelligent or experienced than you!) or make your client feel uncomfortable. Professional yet simple, straightforward talk is the best way.
  7. Don’t take up their time unnecessarily
    You’re there to help, not burden.
  8. Be available whenever you can
    If you know you might be hard to reach one day, let them know.
  9. Look after the budget
    They can often be tighter than your MD’s wallet, so be efficient and maximise it where you can. If you can get more out the budget than your competitors, it’s a win-win situation for you and the client.
  10. Be…
    Honest, proactive, responsive, resilient and interested.

Simple really. Then again, so’s making  a memorial to the right guy – or so we thought!

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