What Really Goes On In My Design Process: Step One - Preparation

Intake questionnaires, discovery consultations, Pinterest boards… on the surface of things it can often seem there is just ONE standard process for the preparation stage of a design project.

I’m going to blow that myth wide open.

After all, while designers may use similar tools, the important thing is what we do with them. Here, I’m giving you an insight into the in-depth nature of the first phase of my projects.

 Brand styling and web design process by Sarah Shuttle, female entrepreneurs and high-end brands, feminine branding, feminine business, luxury branding, luxury brands, wedding professionals, brand design, feminine web design, headshot inspiration, photoshoot ideas, brand photography, personal branding shoot.

Let’s see what we’re working with, shall we?

I need to know your starting point (A) and your desired destination  (B) if I am going to craft a visual presence that bridges the gap from… well, A to B.

So, yes, there are questionnaires for you, but I also do my own research. We’re talking things like social media stalking (the not-creepy kind), trawling your current website, looking at your offerings etc.

This enables me to see where the biggest gaps are in your brand presence, where the ‘disconnects’ are. It lets me style your brand and plan out your website strategically before making it look incredibly beautiful.

Your audience...

You’ll hear many names for your target demographic - ideal clients, dream clients, soulmate clients… but call them what you will, you have a target audience and I need to know who they are. I need to get inside their heads so I can design something that calls to them directly. Not sure? Ask yourself what type of clients have you enjoyed working with. What's been your best and worst experience? What type of clients do you want more of? Designing for them makes your marketing much easier, too.

Inspiration analysis


Time to bring my analytical brain to the table! I take any visual inspiration you've given me and analyse the overarching themes.

When I begin to form my own inspiration board, I analyse what I like about each visual or other sensory inspiration and why. I then take all the resulting elements from my analytical process so I can begin creating something utterly unique to your brand.


When I've absorbed your information, I meditate. I have to connect and feel your brand. It's a strange thing to explain - I connect intuitively then I begin to feel and see visuals.

I meditate at every new stage of the process and if I find myself blocked at any point, I go back to this and reconnect.

Time to use the recipe...

It sounds a cliché analogy but we really are creating something from a range of ingredients. Logical thinking, psychological and behavioural analysis, heritage and backstory, stunning style all combining to deliver a unique and effective visual brand identity and website.

Want me to start this process on your brand?