Amanda Roberts provided a fantastic client briefing this week that demonstrated what an ideal professional briefing is like. She gave us:
– background of the company [VicUrban] and its mission/philosophy
– background to the Docklands development
– analysis from the client’s point of view of the key problems, with some strategies for solutions [eg: the disconnect from the city; lack of awareness that Docklands exists and what it offers to visitors; it still has a bad reputation in the memory of many locals, and so on]
– established the parameters for the project [very broad and open to imaginative solutions].
Most designers would come out of this briefing feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and the difficulty of finding a starting point.
So we break the brief down into ‘bite-sized’ pieces. We start with questions like: what can I do to get something moving; how can I locate a part of the project that I feel comfortable with; what level of challenge do I feel able to take on, and so on.
This is where the communication strategy comes in:
• State the problem (who is the client and why have they come to us?)
Identify one area of the project that you personally will focus on. For example you might take on the problem of linking Docklands to the Central Business District [CBD]; or you might identify a sector of Docklands that you will develop a wayfinding system for; or you could identify an experience [like art, food, history] and create wayfinding for that experience.
• Research, hunting and gathering information. (key audience, key message, social impact, competitors etc.)
Review the Docklands website [look for their Maps, Precincts and Wayfinding Strategy]
Read the Legible London website to get an idea of outcomes of a similar project
Familiarise yourself with the conventions in wayfinding, placemaking and signage
• Insights from the research (what did we learn? what are the next steps?)
Note the thoughts you had during the briefing; look for interesting triggers to spark your imagination. For example, we heard about sight-lines; different perspectives to view the development from; the nature of the area – wind, water, space; messyness and order; sustainability and much more.
Consider what the people who did Legible London thought was significant
• The strategy (what are we going to do for the project to succeed?)
Identify your audience and develop personas so you can get a strong picture of who they are. Why have they come to Docklands? What experience do they want/expect? What can you tell them about the location and its features?
Create a moodboard of the audience [what they read; the type of entertainment they engage with; their taste in clothes etc.
How can you communicate with them: what type of words; images and symbols are they used to?
What are your ideas? How do they look [brainstorm the project, develop moodboard, sketches, design roughs etc]
What is the scope of the project and how much time can you devote to it? Create a timeline with realistic deliverables
REMEMBER: This is a Communication Design project – your solution is clear communication of the place and its features, not just a signage system.