You need to agree and confirm with all involved the actual purpose of the design project. What are the outcomes required? Use the SMARTER criteria to establish these essential starting parameters. Design and the creative process will always tend to zoom off in weird and wonderful directions - that's the nature of the creative process and of creative people - so you need to establish clear guidelines or things can become very difficult to control.

It's all too easy to lose sight of the original purpose of any design project unless it is properly established, quantified, agreed and recorded.

  • Specific (a clear written description of what is intended or required, the outcome needed - the basic aim of the exercise)
  • Measurable (quantify every aspect that is fixed, especially budgets, scale of application, 
    Agreed (with all stakeholders and interested/affected parties)
  • Realistic (even highly conceptual projects need to have a realistic intention or the project is inherently flawed)
  • Timebound (proper start and finish timescales, ideally with milestones (check-points) and measures along the way)
  • Ethical (if you build ethics in from the start you provide a valuable reference point to maintain integrity)
  • Recorded (write everything down; it's essential for clarification, agreement, management and control)