Do you use checklists in your design business?

What does your morning routine look like?

Do you follow mental checklists to prepare yourself for the day? Do you get out of bed and immediately take a shower? Do you head to the kitchen for your morning coffee? Do you turn on the TV or pull out your phone, tablet or computer to get caught up on the news from around the world? Whatever your morning routine is, chances are you do just about the same thing every day.

Without even thinking about it, you’ve created a mental checklist for yourself which you subconsciously check off items as you progress through your morning routine.

The same goes for your design business. We all use mental checklists to keep on top of what we have to do so things don’t get out of hand.

You probably have a mental checklist for the first contact with a new client, a different one for putting a website together, another before submitting a proof to a client, and a very important one before sending a job to be printed.

Checklists are a must for running an efficient design business. If you can manage your checklists all in your head than kudos to you.

But let me get back to your morning routine and ask you a question. Have you ever left the house and later realized you forgot to brush your teeth?

How could that have happened? You followed the same mental checklists you do every day. And yet you somehow forgot to brush your teeth.

It’s not that big a deal; you can always rub your teeth with your finger or tissue. Maybe chew a stick of gum. It’s not the same as brushing your teeth, but you can still make it through the day.

But what happens if you forget something from one of your businesses mental checklists?

What if you forgot to spell check a document before sending it to be printed? Or you launch a website without verifying all the links are working?

These kinds of mistakes can hurt you financially, as well as hurt your reputation.

That’s why I’m a strong believer in physical checklists.

If you had a piece of paper with your morning routine on it, you would never forget to brush your teeth because you would see it was still unchecked.

Now I’m not suggesting you create checklists for your daily life. But some parts of your design business could benefit from a digital or physical checklist.

Things like

  • Web Design
  • Client questions
  • Proofing jobs
  • Invoicing clients
  • Contracts
  • Getting files ready for Print
  • Handing over completed projects

These are all areas that could benefit from checklists.

Web Design Checklists

Let’s take web design for example. I have a checklist I use each and every time I begin a new web design project. It includes all the steps I do when I install WordPress. The settings I change, including deleting the default Admin user and creating a more secure one. It also includes all the default plugins I install. I have a list of certain plugins that I install on every single website I design.

Every time I start a new web design project I pull out my checklist and go through it one by one, so I make sure nothing is overlooked. Once my list is completed I can then start designing the site.

WordPress Website Setup Checklist

Do you want a copy of the checklist I use each and every time I set up a new WordPress website?

Client Questions

Back in episode 15 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I went over 50 questions to ask before every new design project. In it, I covered categories like…

  • Questions about the company hiring you for a design project
  • Questions about the company's target audience
  • Questions about the company's brand
  • Questions about the company's design preferences
  • Questions about the design project's scale, timeframe and budget

All of these questions could be made into checklists to ask clients when discussing a new design project.

 Proofing Jobs

I mentioned spell checking earlier, but there are many other things to look out for when proofing a job. You should be looking out for things like…

  • Orphans
  • Widows
  • Rivers in your text.
  • Line spacing
  • Font Styling
  • Colour spaces

These are just some of the things that need to be checked. Creating checklists for these things ensures you never forget an important step.

Invoicing clients

Keep an itemized list of everything you do on a client project and check them off as you add them to the final invoice.

Contracts

Have a checklist of all the sections in your contract that need to be updated before sending it to a client. You don't want to be embarrassed by sending a contract that still has placeholder text on it.

Getting files ready for Print

Before sending any print project to the printer, you need to verify that everything is in order. Create a checklist to make sure nothing costly is overlooked. Things like…

  • Trapping if needed
  • Rich black RGB-CMYK, Low Res images
  • RGB converted to CMYK
  • Low-Res images replaced Hi-Res versions.

Handing over completed projects

Once a project is completed, and it's time to hand everything over to your client. Have checklists on hand to ensure nothing is forgotten. Some items to include are…

  • Signed copies of rights ownership transfer sheets.
  • Digital files are provided in the right formats
  • Assets such as photos and fonts are included if need be.

Checklists for everything

When it comes to your design business, you shouldn't take any chances. Any project or task that could potentially have something go wrong with it can benefit from having checklists to go over.

What checklists do you use in your design business?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Nayda

¡Hola Mark! I'm Nayda from Puerto Rico. I've been listening to your podcast since this summer. It's been super helpful, so thank you.

I have been working for around 10 years as a Graphic Designer. As a freelancer and as, right now, an employee with a Government agency.

I wonder about you opinion in a matter that always worries me. For my freelance clients I work from my 27″ iMac and I love it. As for right now It's my only device aside from my iPad. I constantly worry that I have no extra computer in case something happens to mine.

Do you happen to have a spare computer in case your principal broke down? Or you prefer to have just one and have money saved up in case you need to buy one in a emergency.

In other words, how do you handle a situation in which you computer broke down but it can be fixed? Because sometimes there's no need to buy a new one. Although it may take time to repair.

Thank you for your time!

To find out what I told Nayda you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Bonus content for Patrons of Resourceful Designer

I have decided to thank everyone who is supporting Resourceful Designer through Patreon by creating bonus episodes just for them. These bonus episodes will be in the form of 30-minute consulting calls with fellow Patrons of the show. Twice a month I will randomly select a Patron for a 30-minute call to discuss their design business. With their permission, I will record these calls and make them available only to Patreon members. These episodes will be great learning experiences as we discuss ways to grow and improve real-life design businesses. For as little as $1 per month, you will have a chance to talk to me directly about your business and to learn from others like you. Become a Patron today.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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