One of the most frequent observations I notice when I look at the work of other designers, is the lack of case studies. It's the number one thing that I recommend to the people who take part in one of my Portfolio Bootcamps.
Why am I so bullish on the impact of case studies?
Because they have made a huge difference to my career, how I am perceived and the type of clients I am now attracting because of them.
Case Studies allow me to show my way of working. It's a chance for me to educate potential clients to the level of effort and attention I put into each project. I'm not being indulgent and procrastinating when I take 2-4 weeks rebranding a client, I'm conducting my research, sketching out ideas and crafting a bespoke identity that will solve the client problems and help them achieve their goals.
They have the reassurance that what I am creating for them has my full attention and isn't a generic 'cookie cutter' solution.
Crucially, this positions me as a professional, not a technician. I'm an authority on design, not just a designer, but instead a designer who solves problems and helps businesses grow and succeed. How do I do this? By digging deep and taking time to craft something unique for every client I work with.
The case studies are the proof of this. They document the whole process and help explain my decision making behind the final design.
Seeing work without an explanation doesn't let the viewer make a meaningful connection. The story behind something is what makes it significant. I might not like it, but I stand a better chance of 'getting it' or respecting the final solution , if I understand the decision making process used to get to that point.
It's like conceptual art. I can visit a gallery and see a piece of art and think 'What is going on here!?' and dismiss it. When I am able to read the story behind it and learn about why it is what it is, I can go back and look at it with fresh eyes, with a new level of understanding. It's only now do I noticed the subtle features and now I get them. I go from 'this is self indulgent ninsense' to 'It's not my thing, but I get what they are trying to achieve'.
How to write a good case study.
You are trying to re-tell the story of the project, but in a way that appeals to any potential clients who may be reading it.
Here is a basic outline:
- The client approached me with a problem.
- Outline the client's problem.
- What we talked about during the initial discussions.
- Briefly explain the type of research that was carried out.
- Show some initial ideas through a series of sketches
- Then show a few refined ideas before revealing the final solution you settled on
- Break down the decision making process behind this chosen solution
- Explain how this solution solved the client's problems
- Talk about the outcome on their business since they implemented your work
- Finish with the client reaction's through a testimonial.
That is a pretty comprehensive guide, so feel free to adjust to suit you. However I find that great clients enjoy taking the time to read case studies and as we all want to attract great clients, I would highly recommend writing something as in depth as above.
Remember, a case study is different to a typical portfolio piece, it's an opportunity to show your process.
In a portfolio piece, you would normally showcase the different executions of the final solution, but in the case study you get to showcase the decision-making went into the final execution of the work.
This allows you to walk potential clients through your process and explain why your solutions are so effective at solving client problems.
If you want to see some of my case studies please click here and if you have questions, please leave a comment below.