Communication is essential in any industry, but it is particularly crucial in design. It allows designers to build relationships with clients, which is the foundation of trust and effective progress.
Unfortunately, we often underestimate communication, especially live communication, preferring email or chat conversations. But the truth is that live communication is essential because it allows the opportunity to immediately correct and discuss all concerns and suggestions. This, in turn, significantly increases the speed of decision-making and enables us to be on the same page with the client.
Understanding goals and context.
One of the most critical aspects of good design is understanding the goals. It is important to know both the goals of the product and the goals of the client. Effective communication and asking the right questions are essential for delving into the roots of a problem.
The first step of each project should be to ask five basic questions: Why? What? Who? When? and Where?
- What is the goal of the product?
- Who are its users?
- How and where will the product be used?
- Only after answering these questions should we move on to the question of What? What exactly we are going to create and how we are going to do it?
Failure to communicate effectively with the client can lead to the client’s expectations not matching the solutions offered by the designer. This is leading to endless revisions and missed deadlines, which cannot have a positive impact on the outcome.
Evaluate each decision based on whether it helps to achieve the goals or not.
When making decisions, it is important to base them on the given goals, not on personal preferences or what the client likes or dislikes. Every decision should potentially help achieve the goals. When presenting solutions, our arguments should be based on the goals. In this case, all decisions will be easy to make, and there will be no room for personal preferences that might make it hard to make decisions.
A great product is not one that collects 1000 likes on Dribbble or gets a bunch of positive comments on Facebook, but one that meets set goals.
Design presentation is a crucial aspect of effective communication with clients. Presentation and argumentation of solutions often play a more important role than the design itself because no matter how good the solutions are, if they cannot be justified, the design may remain a concept and never become a reality.
It is important to make a plan of what you want to discuss and let the client know about it. Discussing the goals and reasoning behind the decisions is also important.
When it comes to presenting your designs to the client, effective communication is key. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Firstly, make a plan of what you want to discuss and let the client know in advance. This way, they’ll know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
- Secondly, it’s crucial to discuss the goals and objectives of the project before diving into the nitty-gritty of the design. This will help you avoid wasting time on irrelevant aspects.
- Thirdly, make sure to explain your design decisions and the reasoning behind them. This will help the client understand why you made certain choices and will likely result in less pushback.
- Remember, design presentations should not be a one-way street. You should listen to the client’s feedback and thoughts, brainstorm together and work towards improving the design.
- Finally, always wrap up the presentation by determining the next steps. Let the client know what you’ll be working on, when they can expect updates, and when the next meeting will be scheduled.
- And of course, don’t forget to smile and keep things positive throughout the presentation.
It is always about relationships. It’s easy to get caught up in the business side of things and forget that your client is a person just like you. It is important to treat the client as a member of the team and work towards a common goal. I remember a conversation with a client who described a designer he had previously worked with as “a very nice guy, I liked to work with.” It wasn’t about the designer’s perfect font choices or design skills, but about the pleasant experience, he had while working with him.
Making the life of your clients easier.
Clients come to you because they need help with their problems, not because they want more problems to deal with. So, instead of bombarding them with a lengthy questionnaire or multiple options, offer them the best solutions and explain why you think they’re the best fit. Remember, clients see you as an expert, so think about how you can assist them in the best possible way.
The critical role of feedback.
Giving and receiving feedback is a crucial aspect of any design process, but it can be tough for both novice and experienced designers, especially when the feedback isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Experienced designers with 5–10 years of experience may take criticism even harder because they often see themselves as experts in their field. They may take feedback as a personal attack on their skills and professionalism. This can lead to them rejecting alternative solutions and becoming fixated on one idea.
However, it’s important for designers to remember that client feedback is valuable, as it can help them find the best design solutions. The client’s business and industry knowledge can provide insight that a designer may not have, and ultimately lead to a better outcome. Rather than taking feedback personally, designers should view it as an opportunity for growth and improvement.
It’s also important to remember that the product goals should dictate the solutions, not the other way around. Rather than simply accepting a client’s request for a red button in the center of a page, a designer should ask why they want it there. Understanding the reason behind the request can lead to alternative solutions that solve the problem more effectively, and ultimately lead to a happy client.
Every product is unique, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to design. Designers who are flexible and adaptable to different projects and clients will ultimately be more successful. Building a strong relationship with clients is also essential, and it’s important to remember that there’s a real person on the other side of the screen. Engaging with clients on a personal level, taking an interest in their lives and cultures, and even meeting with them in person, can help build trust and lead to a more successful outcome. At the end of the day, it’s all about collaboration and finding the best solution.