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Increasing productivity in the design process

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

What can I, as a creative, do in order to increase productivity in the design process?

Time is money. We are all familiar with this statement. Hourly rates are not new news to those in the advertising industry. Business finance has at its core, a very simple mechanic: Profit or loss indicated by offsetting expenses against income. Maximise profit, minimise expenses.

In lieu of the above, productivity in the digital phase of the retail design process in busy shopper marketing agency, amongst others, should be of absolute importance to us as creatives. The word “productivity” in its implemented form and its practical applications should be foundational and fundamental to any creative. The very word “productivity”, from “productive” sheds light on the ability to “produce” great work, not in an effective way but in the most effective way.

In order to achieve this, we at Angle Orange have implemented the “5D Methodology”: Define, design, develop, deploy, and dissect. This tool transitions teamwork towards effective teamwork, workflow towards productive workflow, practise towards best practise, broad spectrum approaches towards narrow, focused responses to creative briefs. It is the practical implementation of intentionality and has as a by-product, increased profitability enabling us to do more work for more clients in less time. 5D gives us measurable, incremental steps to the design process which, when looked at holistically, could be intimidating and difficult to define and approach. Let’s look at enhancing productivity and how the first two parts of our 5D methodology can help.

D1 – Define: How can I, as designer, increase productivity in the briefing phase?

At the inception phase of a project, there are external factors impacting on the direction of the creative process. They are external because they are primarily controlled or influenced by the client and it is therefore crucially important that we as creatives, often through a channel such as an account manager, ask educated, informative, intentional and leading questions. The first “D” of our 5D methodology enables us as creatives to define a client brief and establish the boundaries which said design will live in. a Good strategist should work alongside the creative, in order to help clarify, determine as well as set the direction for the required design from a marketing point of view.

At the end of the defining process, the design should be restricted or directed by various factors and questions such as: What are the campaign objectives or marketing goals? Should the design be focused on, or tailored to a specific shopper type, for example mom, dad, teen etc.? What does the channel landscape look like and where do the path to purchase start for this specific shopper? What are the best possible touch points to intercept this shopper along the path to purchase?

Answers to these questions, in combination with a client budget, will drive technical aspects of the design such as shopper message, touchpoint, aesthetic and determine placement amongst many other things.

By clearly defining a design brief, the creative can cut down and sometimes entirely eliminate unnecessary and expensive design alterations or worse, redesigns. Too often we as creatives dive in to create what we instinctively believe to be great work, without spending the time to effectively reflect on the task and its parameters from a collection of perspectives.

D2 – Design: How can I, as a designer, increase productivity in the design process?

Other factors are considered more internal, under the direct influence of the creative. As a creative, or part of a team of creatives in an active shopper marketing company, we are often called upon in order to visualize brand campaigns. We interact daily with various digital interfaces and applications offering varying functions and strengths, be it 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional. Some are better in the inception and creation phase, some are better in the touch up phase. Let us as digital creatives combine the knowledge of our industries, and our expertise in our digital packages or tools and toolsets, in order to be effective and efficient in the task at hand.

Sometimes the best thing for a creative is to watch another creative work. No two creatives will go about the same job in the same way and it is often insightful to see a different approach. Therefore, working in a vacuum or operating from self-imposed solitary confinement or personal space bubbles are dangerous for us as creatives. Establish regular checks where you push pause for 5 minutes with the intention of reviewing the way in which you work. Ask yourself: Is what I am doing the best and most effective way to do it? Look for repeat patterns, processes and procedures which could be streamlined into a more effective collection of steps while getting the same result. For the sake of productivity, it is imperative that we rid ourselves of mind-sets like “I know enough to do what I need to do”. Rather, we should ask ourselves; how can I do what I do, in a more effective way?


Effective design, therefore, does not only lean on the creative process. Rather, effective design or design that makes business sense cannot exclude approaches and processes which are specifically introduced in order to deal with an overall enhancement of productivity in the workflow pipeline.

Contact Angle Orange for effective and productive responses to your design requirements that strongly align with what we believe to be best practice.

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