So what is a revision exactly? No agency, studio, or designer can offer you a single definition of what might constitute a revision.
Broadly speaking, design revision is any change made to a design after the first draft is created. It can be as simple as changing a few pictures or major changes such as the correction of a design direction.
How to define a revision?
Before deciding to work with a potential client, we usually start with the questionnaire. A questionnaire is our way of defining the project’s goals, creative directions but also a way we can find more about our client and their business. This is just a first step, followed by a meeting and contract signage if we clicked with a potential client. After those preliminary steps, we ask for a complete brief. Usually, we also hold a meeting before we start doing anything design-wise on the project.
By having everything defined beforehand, we can get a good grasp of the scope of the project. We can accomplish the results that are in the accordance with client’s vision. It works very well for smaller projects, but when it comes to more complex ones it’s not always that easy, and that’s where revisions come in handy for both client and agency. Iterating even a simple design can produce better results in the end which can directly benefit your business. Through revisions, both client and agency can see some potential problems that they would otherwise oversee earlier in the process.
And here’s why
The client knows much more about their business than an agency, but they may lack the perspective of a user. I always remind clients that design is subjective and that we didn’t make the design for their taste but their audience’s. Sometimes that means a completely different approach from the one that the client envisioned, but it is better for business. After a few months on a long project, most people can’t remember all the info they’ve read in the contract. That’s why my obligation as a designer is to mention the number of revisions on every design pitch. It is the agency’s responsibility to remind the client that revisions are limited and that after the final round of revisions, we will consider any additional change as a completely new design with its own proposal. In Kontra, we treat those as change requests.
Revisions are a natural part of a design process and they are necessary for collecting feedback and improving the quality of design. By defining revisions in a contract or a design proposal we are setting the client’s and agency’s expectations from a project and one another.
Getting feedback early in the project is also very important for a designer. That’s how we can keep on the right track and deliver the design that meets the client’s criteria. We always encourage our clients to give us as much feedback as they can. Usually, feedback asks for certain changes and we have to revise an existing design. Those changes can vary from a simple typo to extreme situations when the client dislikes the initial draft completely. In most cases, except when the timeline for a project is very short, we will wait for a client to give us complete feedback, preferably in written form so that we don’t skip something along the way. Another benefit of this approach is to ensure that the client is completely sure about all the changes. There’s also a need to ask for confirmation so that we take all potential changes in a count.
Oftentimes, just after looking at an initial design draft clients can discover that some they didn’t previously have well-defined features and it may change the scope of a project. Clients may not know the extent of those changes and it is up to the agency and designer to explain and educate clients about it so that both can reach the compromise.
How we define a design revision in Kontra
We came up with an easy definition that helps us differentiate between minor and major revisions. Major revision usually changes more than 20% of the design. It’s easier to define what elements are making up a revision than count per cent. So let’s round it up:
Minor revisions imply a change of:
- Order of sections*
- Partial, such as adding new elements or changing them completely – less than 20% of the design
- Changing the design partially, such as adding new elements or changing them completely – more than 20% of the design
- Completely changing a design from an original brief
- Changing a design direction
- A section is a content block, with each section containing some amount of content such as pictures, text, video, etc.
It’s not always easy to tell the exact extent of changes, and counting the percentage is always a nuisance. So, there will be situations when we will be flexible and reach a compromise with our client to keep a good relationship.
Communication is key, and it is in everyone’s best interest to build a healthy client-agency relationship. Everything should be well defined before the start of a project, including the number of revisions. A limited number of revisions is a good thing because it reminds everybody involved that it’s serious. That ends in every round of revisions being thought through and done meticulously.
If things go south usually it could be a couple of things, were the expectations wrong, was there a lack of communication, or is it just poor management of a project by any side? Maybe it was a communication problem and we can resolve it with a meeting where we can discuss things from top to bottom. Remember, a healthy relationship with clients is a primary objective for an agency. Thus I believe it’s in everyone’s interest to smooth out any potential issue before it becomes a problem.
But what if the scope of a revision is not well defined in a contract? Well, that’s a perfect opportunity to be flexible and show some goodwill towards the client.