Managing & Directing your Creative Projects with Confidence

by Jake Rocheleau

on July 29, 2013

in Business/Freelance

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Whether you are a freelance designer or working as part of a team, there are going to be times where you need to lead the way. Not everybody enjoys being the leader and sometimes it is easier to follow directions working towards a greater goal. But I want to share a few ideas to help teams and individuals for managing their creative projects.

inside studio desks working creative designers

Confidence is a big piece of the process because you want the customer to understand what you are doing. Even if you may not have as much confidence in the work, keep this buried down and push through the workload. You may surprise yourself with what can be accomplished. A successful creative project requires open communication and a lot of pushing in the right direction. I do hope these tips may help other designers when building future ideas.

Mapping a Strategy

First sit down with the client or with your team and just brainstorm. If you are building a project for yourself then maybe you can think up these ideas alone. But you have to keep focused on the project and really plan out a strategy for the design, interface, and key details after launching online.

What type of marketing strategy will be needed, if any? Why would people be coming to the website in the first place? Is there a better way to present certain types of information on the page? Directing a project sometimes requires breaking down the typical walls of what you expect in a website. You may need to think of new ideas even if they are really bad, just to ensure you are moving in the right direction.

map planning pins ideas project geography

Take this first step as a messy creative session to put down every idea you can think about. Then wade through the bad ones and pick up the gems which are worth including. By taking out the time for thinking you can try to get all your ideas down at once. Some may call this mapping out a strategy from point A to point B. You want to finish with an overall blueprint of the entire process from start to finish. This blueprint can be flexible and change over time, but it is crucial as a reference point at the beginning of your work.

Organize Key Tasks

Take a bit of time for writing down important tasks which will need to be completed. Often these relate to copywriting, marketing, identity design, web development, and other similar jobs. If you are working within a team these should be split between members who can best handle the workload. Doing a project by yourself means that you’ll be handling all of it. So plan your time accordingly and make sure to leave enough room for critical thinking.

The biggest issue when working alone is the difficulty of getting outside the project. When you are doing everything yourself it can be difficult to stop and actually think if these are still the right steps. I always recommend a bit of self-reflection over the work completed each day to ensure you are moving along properly. Directors and managers are the decision makers on any project and you need to be grounded in your beliefs so as not to waste time in the process.

digital mobile phone tasks todo list

Do Not Fear Creativity

Designers and developers will often get caught up in the schedule of creating ideas and lose sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes it helps to create things even if they turn out horrible. Time spent planning and thinking is the cornerstone of creative energy. Everything starts out as just a non-physical thought, and through our actions we can make that into something real.

Hold confidence in your talents regardless of the ideas themselves. We all have bad ideas and that is part of the creative process. Because for 100 different bad ideas we only need 1 good idea to get the ball rolling forward. Sometimes when creative people get upset with their ideas they limit creativity and stick to the normal basic ideologies. Catch yourself in these ruts and do not be afraid of your creative potential. In this line of work there are no boundaries for free thinking. And by putting together many various bad ideas you leave room for coming up with an awesome one.

Follow the Project Vision

Those who are running a project will often have their own idea for what needs to get done. Ideally this vision should be inspired by what the customer wants, and thus fulfilling the final project would be in service to the client. This may instead be for your own company or even as a side project where you are judging your own work. But it still requires a vision that you have to follow up until you run into trouble.

artistic vision studio easel painting

Sometimes there will be bumps in the road during the creative process. Try not to ignore these but instead focus on why you do not like certain things. Maybe you were going for a color scheme or a type of interface that seemed like a good idea, but in practice looks very odd or just plain bad. Instead of trying to make it work you should adjust the vision and see where you need to go next. Do not be afraid of changing things up because it can be a nice fix to ordinary problems.

Another good solution is to call together a small meeting with your team or with the client(s) themselves. You can ask related questions and try to figure out what other people would do to fix these design/UI woes. Not everyone will have the same opinion so you will need to be the leader ultimately picking which direction is best. Over time the process will get a lot easier once you understand the needs and desires of your users.

Final Thoughts

I love the process of directing a creative project because I enjoy seeing the stages through from start to finish. It requires a keen eye for time management and coordination among yourself or your teammates. But if you are new to building digital projects do not worry! There is always enough time to keep practicing what you know and learning stuff that you don’t. As always if you have other ideas or questions feel free to share with us in the post discussion area below.

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About Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a digital researcher and writer on many popular design magazines. He frequently writes on topics including web design, user experience, mobile apps, and project management. You can find him all throughout Google and tweeting @jakerocheleau. Connect with Jake on google+