The Ultimate Guide to Managing your Design Projects – Part 1. A false start.

WARNING! This entire blog article is an advertisement. Wait! I know what you’re thinking – either 1. “This guy is crazy,” 2. ”I’m going to stop reading this article immediately” or 3. “This is all just a clever device to pique my curiosity and keep me reading. Damn it! It’s working!” Whatever you’re thinking, please give me a few moments to explain.

Back about seven years ago as Go Media was just starting to grow, we decided we needed a blog to better market our design firm. The GoMediaZine was the result. The original intention was straight-forward. First, establish ourselves as authorities on design by sharing our design knowledge and trumpeting our accomplishments. Second, gain new design customers through our reputation as a design leader. When the Arsenal was born about a year later our customer base suddenly included fellow graphic designers. Accordingly, the content of the GoMediaZine also changed. We needed to produce content that would drive traffic to our design products (vector packs). The strategy was almost the same. We would build a community of potential customers by sharing our design expertise; this time through amazing (and FREE) design tutorials. We hoped that the community would become customers of the Arsenal. It was a classic win-win. As cliché as that sounds, we truly believe in it.

This concept of marketing through education is nothing new. But, typically, we would write articles and tutorials AFTER our products were already finished and available to the public. Recently, however, Jeff Finley has been working on an E-book to sell on the Arsenal. The E-book is an insider’s guide to the apparel industry. While doing some research on marketing e-books he learned that you should really be posting blog articles long BEFORE you launch your product. Basically, you’re priming your audience so that by the time you release your product, everyone is lined up down the street ready to buy it. I guess this makes perfect sense. Everyone does it. Whether it’s a movie, a video game or a new Apple product, the marketing hits the streets long before the product is available.

That brings us to this blog article, an advertisement. This article is an advertisement for the most ambitious and useful design tool that Go Media has ever produced: Prooflab ( This is the first in a series of blog articles I’m going to write about managing your design projects, posting proofs, tracking time, etc., etc. It’s a series of articles about the logistics and communications side of being a graphic designer. The goal of which, I hope, will be to entice you to try the Prooflab once we launch it.

Of course, one key to the success of educational marketing is that it needs to be genuine and provide REAL VALUE to the reader. It can’t pretend to be valuable, but in actuality be a long article explaining how great our product is. Furthermore, Go Media’s audience is very sophisticated. Our audience can sniff out an ad or some secondary motive in a heartbeat. Whenever we posts anything on the GoMediaZine that is overtly self serving, we are summarily bashed, and rightfully so. If we do not do a good enough job keeping the design community’s best interests in front of our own you let us know! So, of course, I’ve been struggling mightily to figure out how I could possibly write a series of articles about project management, specifically, project management for graphic designers with the punch-line being: “Prooflab is THE solution.” All the while, not being too obvious about it and simultaneously providing you with some valuable knowledge.

Well, I couldn’t think of any. Or perhaps my conscious wouldn’t let me. So, I’ve decided to take a different approach – 100% transparency. I will lay all my cards on the table. I’ve decided to have a true, real, and honest discussion about the various products and systems that graphic designers use to manage the design process. I’ll let the chips fall where they may. My hope is that once we’ve gone through this learning process, the conclusion is that Prooflab is indeed the ultimate design management tool. But if it isn’t, then we will keep improving it until it is. Our goal is to make Prooflab the industry standard.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I suppose I could use your help! I have some ideas of my own, but I would like to ask you – what should I write about? What questions do you have about proofing, time tracking, client communications, project management, design firm management, CRM, etc. Or if you would like to contribute in a real way to this conversation by talking about how you (or your firm) manages its projects – I would LOVE to hear about it. Basically, let’s make this a design community-driven discussion about how to best run a design project. And hopefully, we will all benefit.

You can add comments after this article, you can write me directly at: [email protected] OR, if you have a few minutes to spare, you can take this short survey that we’ve thrown together. I will include your thoughts and survey results in subsequent articles.

I may insert your thoughts directly into my text (with credit or anonymity – whichever you desire) or simply use them as primers to help direct my research. I truly appreciate your help on this. And I promise to remain as impartial as possible – I know you’ll call me out otherwise.