Digital Designers that think they know it all...probably don't.
Recently I was speaking with a colleague of mine who recently left a fortune 500 company to work with a start up. In talking with him about a recent career event that his company was putting together, I discovered that they were seeking someone with a skill set similar to my own to fill a position within their group. I mentioned this to him and he said with a sigh…”You don’t want to work here…our designers think they know everything and refuse to see anything but what they think is the right way…even though our clients request and want other things to help them…but if they don’t bend a little they’re all going to be out of a job when the client pulls the contract in January.” I said what do you mean? Aren’t they involving the client in the design process? His reply; “No, they had an initial meeting to talk to them about what the client needs were and wants, but after that they run with things on their own and pay very little attention to any client feedback. They’d rather do the least amount of work, than give the client what they really want.”
Collaboration was something that I thought every design firm did automatically from the beginning. Apparently it’s not. Creativity and design functionality often stops where the in house designer says it does….and here’s why that is a bad thing.
The more brains you have in the design process from the beginning, the better ideas you will produce. I know from my own experience of trying to develop a mobile application on my own, how difficult it was to come up with different ideas on how I wanted the application to work. I liked my designs, but because I had no input from anyone initially, I didn’t really know how the world would. The greater amount of positive influence and critique you have at the start of any UX design, the greater your chances of creating something of substance as your process moves down the line. People need to be involved like your product managers, developers, marketers, and key stakeholders and they need to be present throughout the ENTIRE process.
KEY POINT: Designers/developers, must play nice must be flexible and must be willing to do work. This may mean that you have to scrap an idea in your head of how things should work and replace it several times with something that is a hybrid of your ideas, and the ideas of your entire team. Not doing so, stifles the creative process, and can be detrimental to your business. You know, when clients bail because you didn’t do what they wanted you to do? When you involve others, and become flexible your end product shines. The client is happy and the people that sign your checks are too. It may mean more work, but what else are you going to do when you go to work? That’s kind of what you were hired for.
I suggested to my friend that he take a look at a book that I just read by Dallas, TX UX/UI designer and founder of the Big Design Conference, Brian Sullivan called THE DESIGN STUDIO METHOD. It is a book that is dedicated to the design process, and in particular the sketch method of creativity. The Design Studio Method involves the ENTIRE team of people that I mentioned previously and incorporates the sketching of ideas by EVERYONE in said team about what their concept ideas look like on paper. They won’t be perfect, they won’t be final, they’re just the beginning step to hash out ideas and begin the design process. It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone considering going into the design and development of …well of anything really. Sullivan’s method can be incorporated into many aspects of business that involve bringing new ideas to the table.
So, does that mean that everything a client wants should be implemented into a design? No, there will always be tweaks, changes and compromise, but if you are working with a team that refuses to see things from the perspective of others (EMPATHY) then it can mean a painful process for everyone involved. It all comes down to communication. Talk to each other, explain your ideas, and the why’s behind your choices then invite others to do the same. Listen to everything that your design team talks about and try to incorporate the best ideas from each person into the design or many designs. Do it as many times as you need to to create a fluid work for the end user. By allowing yourself the freedom to empathize with your colleagues involved in the design process you open yourself and your organization up to a whirlwind of new ideas, innovative tactics, and an end product that any client would be proud to use.
FINAL POINT It’s not always easy to give up control, but it’s a lot better than having to re-do your resume at the end of the contract. Keep your ego at the door, and your design thinking moving everywhere you go.