8 Ways to Breeze Through the Revisions Process on a Creative Project

By on 02/26/2018

You’ve hired a marketing agency and are all set to have some stunning creative projects produced to showcase your business. You want to walk away happy with the final result, but not get sucked into seemingly endless rounds of revisions to get there. What can you do to avoid delays, confusion, and frustration? Here’s how to get off on the right foot with your marketing agency partner and, together, create the best projects you can imagine.

Start with a Good Relationship with Your Agency
A successful agency-client relationship is based on a good fit from the very beginning. So ask yourself, can this team provide the inventive solution you need on deadline with the right ROI? When it comes right down to it, the design process is all about the agency-client relationship. Creating amazing things isn’t always stress-free; There will be some bumps in the road. As the client, you’ll know more about your brand, but trust that the agency knows more about how to best market it. They’ll reciprocate that trust and recognize that you have valid opinions about the creative work.

people around a table at meeting with coffee

Communicate Early and Often
Some 88% of clients say they freely and fully share their feedback on projects, but only 36% of agency partners agree that they are that open. Where 90% of agencies say they truly understand their clients’ businesses, only 65% of their clients agree, according to a study from agency RPA and USA Today. Open communication is clearly an opportunity for improvement. Keep in touch throughout the design or copywriting process: ask questions when you have them and be sure you’re both staying on the same page.

Set Clear Expectations
Be honest and open about your goals, budget, expectations, and level of satisfaction with previous agency work. Even the most brilliant account managers can’t read your mind. Just like any relationship, both sides must contribute. They need you, and you need them. You’re in this project together. For work to be completed successfully, your digital marketing agency will probably need you to answer questions, give guidance or feedback, and provide information for deliverables. Make yourself available or designate a point of contact you trust who can be more accessible to avoid project delays. 

Be Clear On What “Revisions” Means
A revision is meant to be a minor modification or correction as you move toward the final design or draft of content. Be completely clear on the design process before you begin any project with your agency: how is a revision defined, and how many are included in your contract? How will you be billed for extra work beyond that? What constitutes a minor versus a major revision? Both sides of the agency-client relationship should agree on these points, or there’s potential trouble ahead.

photo of wall of post it notes and design ideas

Understand The Purpose of Revisions
Good agencies want to do good work for their clients. Your web developer, designer or copywriter will create a design draft and will ask you for feedback. Take some time to put your thoughts together in one response. “I was just thinking…” can get very expensive very fast. Changes based on your feedback are made with the goal to move closer to the best result for the project and its audience. In other words, revisions are part of the design process, and they cannot (and should not) be avoided.

“As an agency, we want our clients to absolutely love our work and be proud of their new design. We want to give you everything you dream up, but part of our role is to sometimes rein ideas in. Our goal is always to clearly define the scope of the project in advance, and help guide clients through the ‘in scope, out of scope’ maze.”

— Jena, Account Executive, Black Bear Design

Understand How Many Rounds of Revisions are Included in the Project
Once a draft is presented, take a day or two with the project to make your edits and get your feedback ready. Show it to all the decision-makers to get their feedback. Once all of their comments, ideas and questions are consolidated, share it with your agency. They’ll incorporate your changes, provide a new version, and that’s the end of that round of revision. Two or three rounds of revisions on any web development, graphic design or copywriting project are pretty standard.

Remember Design Is Subjective
Sometimes you won’t completely agree about the best design solution. Flexibility, understanding, and trust will go a long way in these situations. Trust that your agency knows what they are doing – that expertise is what you’re paying for, isn’t it? Be reasonable and work on establishing expectations in these situations. Some things may miss the mark, and when they do don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback and ask for revisions. To work toward a successful relationship, you need to set clear expectations, agree on responsibilities, be accessible and transparent.

“Define who the key decision-makers are in your company on each project early, especially projects that involve design elements. Many different tastes and styles coming to the table can cause revisions to get out of hand in no time. Limiting how many cooks you have the kitchen will save you headaches later.”

–Rachel, Traffic Manager, Black Bear Design

Know When It’s Time to Pump the Brakes
An endless cycle of nitpicky or vague revisions, a million people reviewing and weighing in with conflicting feedback, and team members who have no idea what they want — just what they don’t – is unpleasant for you as the point person for the project and for the creative who is constantly inputting those edits. If things are getting out of control or going in a direction that feels wrong, it’s time to speak up, sit down face-to-face (or screen-to-screen) and get everybody back on the same page.

Investing the time in clearly briefing and responding to your agency will build a comfortable level of communication. You’ll find that with little effort, you will be far more pleased with the quality and value of your final deliverables. Great design is not just an end result; it’s a process that involves discussing ideas, coming up with solutions, creating drafts, and testing prototypes. That’s how your agency will get to the beautiful result, your project.

At Black Bear Design we say: come to us with challenges. Ask us your questions. We love a challenge. We won’t think any of your questions about marketing projects, website design, graphics work or social media management services are foolish. That’s what we’re here for. Marketing is our business. Let’s start a conversation about the next project of yours.

5 responses to “8 Ways to Breeze Through the Revisions Process on a Creative Project”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Communication is everything! Don’t wait to speak up if your project isn’t quite right and always to say when you really love a design.

  2. John says:

    Too many cooks in any kitchen can kill a tasty recipe. With websites, you’ll always have someone who doesn’t like the outcome or had a different vision for it.

    Everyone with a camera is not a photographer, nor is everyone with internet access a web designer. Leave the design to the experts.

  3. Mike says:

    Great roadmap for any project! I have found that setting expectations on the front end helps to smooth out the revision process.

  4. Tom says:

    The rounds of revisions a very touchy subject! How do find is a good way to handle it if you are up front with the rounds of revisions, but the “little” updates start to add up, and you feel like if you bring it up towards what seems to be the end, the client will get angry with you?

  5. Eddie says:

    Communication is the key to any relationship. And the relationship between you and your designer isn’t any different. A good relationship and good communication will result is a beautiful design/web site, etc

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