Our team mostly does web application projects, working directly with our clients. For projects without a public-facing interface, design is rarely a major issue.
Nearly every project that involves a public website component, however, results in a lot of back-and-forth about multiple design details, ranging from color choices, to placement of content elements, to navigation menus.
Usually, it is one or more key stakeholders who identify something they don't like, ask it to be changed, give vague descriptions of how it should be changed (ranging from "it's too dark" to "it should look 'new' and 'modern', and this [entire component] looks outdated"). The expectation is usually that we redo it, so they can see if we got it "right", and if we didn't, we get new feedback ("that looks better, but now it doesn't have enough contrast compared to [adjacent component]", or "that's definitely better, but it still doesn't 'pop' enough! I want something that really draws attention...."), and are expected to do it again.
In some cases, this can result in half a dozen design iterations or more. This creates a large amount of scope creep.
We are working on better structuring of definition of done for our projects (we're moving... slowly... towards a Scrum approach to development), but I'm at a loss for how to employ this approach for graphic design elements.
Ideally, what I'd like to accomplish is to either:
- Limit the number of design revisions that can be requested before sprint completion
- Find some way to effectively communicate to stakeholders what we're including in the design portion of the estimates, and at what point their requests will start impacting our scope (preferably before we get to that point).
Number 1 would be my strong preference, as it would make it easier to maintain an overall schedule without impacting other sprints or projects.
Number 2 might be as easy as "we devote x hours to design, and anything over that costs extra", but our previous attempts at this have sometimes frustrated clients, resulting in their arguing that the design wasn't "done" because it didn't contain features that they hadn't previously defined (this was in projects where we failed to get adequate definitions of done, however). Other clients agree to continue paying the extra costs, resulting in a lot of extra billable time, which is great until we have to explain to another client that we have to delay their project because the previous one is running weeks beyond schedule (we're a very small team).
Note that we do not have a dedicated graphic designer, and, while it's on my wish list, we are unlikely to get one anytime soon.