May 2, 2022
(updated April 22, 2024)

Designer’s Guide to Efficient Systems

Table Of Contents

If you’re struggling to scale your creative services without sacrificing your time (or your spark) you might need to spend some time aligning your systems.

This means pulling all of your tools, processes, branding, and website together into a seamless client experience so that you can confidently command premium pricing while being able to take on more dream clients who VALUE YOU and what you do for them.

Filling your system tool belt

First you need to decide on what tools you want to use to power your system.

There’s no shortage of options here, so let’s stick to the basic types of tools you need to research so you can find the best fit for the way you work.

The most important thing to remember about your system tool belt is that YOU need to be comfortable with it. Get a feel for a tool before committing, and make sure it’s the right one for your work style and preferences.

  1. Project Management (Airtable, Clickup, Notion, Trello)
  2. Content Management System (WordPress, Squarespace)
  3. Email Service Provider (Mailerlite, Convert Kit, Active Campaign)
  4. All-in-One Business Management (Dubsado, Honeybook, 17Hats)
  5. Automation (WP Fusion, Zapier, ITTT)
  6. Calendars & Booking (Calendly, Acuity, Amelia)

(no affiliate links)

Keeping the system on brand

Once you’ve decided on the tools you’re going to use, you need to make sure to keep the system on brand.

If you’re a brand designer, this part is easy because you already have stellar brand guidelines in place.

For web designers and devs, this means you need to make rules for how your branding is used in a style guide.

A style guide helps you keep your system aligned to your brand guidelines, which helps build and maintain trust.

It should include the different variations of your logo, when and how to use them, your color palette, fonts & typography, and the patterns or backgrounds you can use throughout your website and secondary systems. It may also include icons or other elements, or how to speak about your brand.

If you have a lot of colors in your brand, keep your system colors simple so your content, photos, and graphics can show off the rest of the color scheme.

The most important thing to remember is consistency. Keep your fonts and colors consistent across platforms, and use the same sizes, weights, and colors for similar items.

Systemize your design process

While the design process can be highly creative, it’s a mistake to wait for the muse. Having familiar systems that help keep your creativity flowing is essential to being able to scale your business.

Implement these easy processes

Logo Concepts

Whether you allow for 1 or 3 options, you can create a standard document to present the concept(s) to your client. Watermark it with your branding and if you’re providing more than one, number each concept for easy reference.

Brand Board

Don’t create a brand new layout for each brand board, instead create a standard layout that you can customize. That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak the style for each client, it just means you’re starting from the same well-thought position every time for every client.

Website Prototype

Depending on the project, your prototype could be as simple as a static mockup you did in Illustrator or it might be an interactive Figma masterpiece. Either way, make a form with a standard list of questions designed to provoke thoughtful feedback so you can eliminate some back and forth and get to building the thing.

File Handoff

Whether it’s exporting a million versions of a logo or teaching a proud new website owner how to log in you can systemize the handoff process by creating a standard checklist to follow for each deliverable. That way you know you’ve provided everything your client needs, every time.

Testimonial Request

Instead of throwing in an offhanded ask for a testimonial, create a form (bonus points if it automatically outputs to a spreadsheet) and ask questions that prompts valuable feedback that you can use in your marketing. Looking at old testimonials is also an excellent way to combat imposter syndrome.

Business Growth

Measuring and tracking Key Performance Indicators isn’t glamorous but you gotta do it to scale your services. Keep track of your revenue, audience, website visits, and other KPI in a spreadsheet, and make time to update it weekly or monthly. Make sure to schedule time to do this kind of high level business work and then create processes for it so you can build consistency into tracking the growth of your business.

Need some help deciding what to systemize next?

I do free, 15 minute System Audits.

This is a NO PITCH call on zoom – where I look at your existing systems (website, CRM, PM, emails, or whatever you’ve got) and give YOU very specific insight and feedback on what needs to be upgraded in order for you to systemize your zone of genius.

And then if you are curious to find out more about working with me (offers, payment plans, details – etc) – we can hop on a separate call for that or you can just take what I give you on the Systems Audit and implement away.

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