It is our intention that Design Corps function as closely to the workings of a design firm as possible in the classroom setting and over the course of a 15-week semester. As such, we follow many of the same steps found in a firm, including research, brainstorming, internal reviews, presentations to clients, revisions and production.
Clients (usually three or four a semester) are selected for Design Corps based on a number of factors. With so many deserving organizations interested in our services, we try to balance the nature of the work, the kind of components and schedule to provide the best experience for the students and the best product for the clients.
During the first weeks of the semester, client representatives come to the class and present their organization's history and needs to the students, usually through a combination of prepared remarks, printed materials or other visual aids. Some time is allowed for questions and discussions, as the students seek to better understand the distinct nature of the project. Prior to this, the students are supplied with a design brief generated by the client's on-line applications and augmented by further questions from the Creative Directors. It is generally expected that all necessary content be provided to Design Corps at this time and that all necessary funding be in place. While Design Corps' services are pro-bono, we cannot undertake a project unless the client has secured funds to pay either a printer to print the collateral or a developer to code their web site.
Research and Development
Either individually or as part of a team, students design solutions for the client's needs. During this time, we encourage and arrange on-site visits as part of the research. This part of the process usually takes a few weeks, as students present their ideas internally to their professors and classmates.
The student or team of students present their designs (anywhere from two to twelve concepts, depending on the project) for all or select components to the client in the classroom setting and follow up with e-mailed pdfs. Some feedback is provided and discussion had on the spot, with more comprehensive client feedback following a few days later.
Refinement and Follow-Up Presentations
Based on comprehensive client feedback, students refine their work and build out the remainder of components as necessary. They present them to the client at subsequent presentations—of which there are usually two—until one final design is selected. Given enough time, these follow-up presentations may take place at board meetings outside of class hours (Thursdays, 9:30-12:20) or off campus. We only request that the board, or anyone else whose input is highly weighted and might affect the final decisions, be involved by the second presentation so there are no last-minute surprises.
The selected student or students will then work with the client—still under faculty supervision—on final refinements and produce the files necessary to be handed off to the printer or web developer. The preparation and sign-off of these files usually takes two weeks. The actual time necessary to produce the final result after files are released will depend on the vendor's schedule and the complexity of the project. Design Corps will continue to monitor and shepherd the project through this phase, reviewing proofs and prototypes as necessary.