Billy Joel knew what he was talking about when he sang:
Get it right the first time, that’s the main thing
I can't afford to let it pass
Get it right the next time, that’s not the same thing
Gonna make the first time last.
In a perfect world, a new concept would arrive at your desk complete with a cross-referenced and tested digital marketing plan. All you would have to do is design, present, or code that dream. But that’s not the way the real world works. And, if it did, it would be boring.
So how can organization grow in three-part harmony that combines creativity, budget restraints, and milestones that result in an on-time launch?
With the proper planning, an outline, and a style guide, you actually can get it right the first time. And, in the process, you will not stifle anyone’s creativity or go over schedule. It’s really the best of all possible worlds—because with a plan that lets everyone know what’s expected, people are actually more free to be innovative. Here’s how.
For a website project, an overall plan that includes concepts you want to feature, objectives (make a purchase, register, etc), a content inventory (what you have and what you still need), and the platforms you want it to be used for, is a good start. A detailed outline should also be a part of this plan with your ultimate goal and audience in mind.
A style guide will consolidate design decisions and provide a uniform look and feel. Components include deciding how your logo will look, what colors you should or shouldn’t use, consistency in content and messaging, and what images should be used. With the creation of a media library, anyone working on the project will always knows where to get the correct image in a variety of formats or end products.
It takes more time going back time and again to make different versions or sizes of logos for various requests, than it does to sit down once and make all the versions you think you’ll need. For example: vector for screenprinted versions, JPEG, TIFF for printing, transparent PNG or GIF file for web. Once you have a style guide, share it across the company so everyone can access it for consistent branding and corporate identity.
When obtaining or creating source material, start with the best quality possible. Suppose you’re getting a stock image for an email. You may figure that all you need is a 72 dpi image. Wait! Instead, obtain the highest-resolution version, and place that file in your document. Next month, you may need to turn that email into a poster, and you’ll want to have that image ready. You can create low-resolution images (for the web, for example) from high-resolution images, but not the other way around.
Always assume—and plan for—the project to become more complex over time.
Some jobs grow organically. That’s OK too, because you can build and plan for that:
- Need to increase the frequency of your social media content? Refer to the style guide.
- Want to include your logo in your email signature or on LinkedIn? Get the correct version from the image library.
- The conference was so successful that you want to build out printed materials and postcards? Take your high-resolution work and use those high-quality materials to get ahead of the game.
Some people say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Proper planning and careful attention to detail can take you far, and leave you more time for creativity and growing your business.