Understanding the cost of endless design revisions and how to reduce them?

By Jodie Byass


Design revisions are a critical part of your design process. They're the single most reliable way for clients and creatives to get on the same page and ensure that the client gets a final product that they love.

However, when creatives have to fight their way through an endless stream of revision requests, they wind up demoralized, behind schedule, and frustrated with the client. Meanwhile, the client is frustrated that the creatives aren't giving them the project they originally asked for.

Marketing Review ProcessKeep everyone happy and get design revisions under control. Here's why you may be having issues with design revision and a few solutions to counteract the problem.

What are Design Revisions?

A design revision is any adjustment made to your design after the first draft has been created. Sounds simple enough, right?

That's about as simple as design revisions get.

You see, many in the industry aren't clear on what actually constitutes a revision. Or, put another way, what is a revision and what is more than a simple revision.

There are also issues of unclear feedback, unfocused feedback, or good old fashioned unclear goals.

This may seem like an issue of semantics, but it can actually make a huge difference in whether or not your project stays on schedule. Excessive or far-reaching revisions can prevent a project from being completed by the deadline, force you to run over-budget, and sour relationships between creatives and clients.

Oh, and there's the detrimental impact on staff morale.

How to Keep Design Revisions in Scope

So you see, when we talk about understanding design revisions, we're also talking about keeping design revisions within the scope of the original project.

How do you know if a revision is within scope? First, you have to define what that scope is and use it as a yardstick to measure the scale of the revision requests you receive. To be clear: each request must be evaluated individually, not in the context of other revisions already requested.

If you measure revisions as a collective group, a series of small revisions could meet the standard for exceeding the scope of the project, when in reality each revision is actually a reasonable request that's well within the agreed-upon project scope.

Let's say, for example, you create an interior rendering for a client. And let's say the client asks you to change the wall color. That's easy to do and actually a common request.

But a client asking you to completely change the agreed-upon style of the room or change to a different type of room (a living room instead of a bedroom, for example), that's not a revision. That's a request for a completely different project than what the client originally asked for.

How Do You Stop Clients Asking For Endless Revisions?

With that said, a series of endless small requests can be just as exhausting as a complete shift in scope.

Managing client relationships through this cycle of endless revisions require a delicate touch if you want those clients to keep coming back. But for the sake of your creatives' morale and sanity, you have to prevent an endless cycle of revision requests.

The best place to start is the client-creative relationship. Your first goal should be to establish a healthy, communicative relationship with your client. This will make it easier to clarify exactly what they want on the first try so that you don't have a laundry list of revisions.

Once you have a healthy working relationship, you can begin to educate your client on the real nature of revisions. Revisions are essential for the process, but they must be done purposefully to drive the project toward the agreed-upon objectives.

Explain to the client what this process is and how revisions fit into it. That way, they won't ask for a total change in scope while calling it a revision, and if they want a major change of trajectory, you can open a wider conversation.

This is also a good opportunity to clarify how many rounds of revisions are included in your fee. This will encourage the client to make their rounds count.

Understanding Why You Have So Many Revisions

Communication from the start can help prevent the issue, but if the revision issue does arise, it's important to understand why you have so many revision requests. Yes, it's frustrating, but it's also a way to find out what isn't working in your approval process.

For example, is the client reviewing a dated version of the design? Are they providing fragmented feedback that could have been addressed all at once? Are you or the client struggling to compare old and new versions?

There are many different reasons why you have a lot of revisions, but most of them boil down to one of two categories:

  1. 1. Process problems
  2. 2. Feedback problems

If it's a problem with your process, then you can streamline some element of the project progression to eliminate unnecessary revision requests. Scattered approvals are a good example of a process problem - inefficiencies in communication can leave you with information gaps that could be avoided.

Feedback problems have to do with the revision requests themselves. If the client is giving unclear or unfocused feedback, it's difficult (if not impossible) for creatives to puzzle out what the client actually wants, making it difficult to adequately address the revisions the client has asked for.

Similarly, scattered feedback may create a situation where creatives make revisions only to find that the client later wanted something different.

Feedback issues are fundamentally about communication, and they can be traced all the way down to your first meeting with the client. If either party is unclear about what this project is supposed to be or has mismatching ideas about the project, you're setting yourself up for an endless revision loop.

Need Help With Your Design Revision Process?

We get it: design revisions are frustrating. But they're also an essential part of the design process and keeping your clients happy.

If your agency is struggling to handle revisions successfully, it may be time to look at your process. That's where we come in. Our solutions give agencies the power to execute outstanding campaigns while allowing teams to breathe easy.

Want to find out how we can help? Click here to book a demo.

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