Every professional, and even more so a designer, faced problems when communicating their ideas, perhaps without even realizing it. Think of the moments when the client was dissatisfied with your work or the manager could not understand the essence of your idea, although it seemed to you to be a genius. Perhaps she was, but only in your head.
For an idea to be accepted and implemented, a designer needs to infect others with his vision.
The founder of a well-known design studio told me how they once struggled for several weeks in a row on the concept of a site for a tender, and they ended up with several brilliant layouts that became the basis of the final presentation. Armed with coffee, the designers enthusiastically headed to the client, anticipating success and … failed.
Instead of listening to an enchanting performance, the client printed out the presentation on a black and white printer and began poking at illegible places that were beyond the control of the old Korean product. As a result, the work on which the team worked, not sparing MacBooks and the stock of a nearby coffee shop, went to the bottom.
What to do about it?
The most popular way is to call a client inadequate and discouraged, but for some reason it does not suit everyone, so I will tell you how to prepare for presenting your ideas in order to minimize the likelihood of failure. And it is not so important what it is: a large tender or a small improvement. Success in both cases is based on the same things.
I started my career in design as a freelancer, and only a few years later I managed to realize the importance of a correct presentation. I’ve been working in a product for the last two years, and I have to use this skill even more often. Every small improvement, without the correct presentation, will be forgotten or thrown at the very bottom of the list of development tasks. The first months I neglected to submit, but after a year I realized how important it is and now I can spend more than an hour describing the idea, which will help me find ambiguous points and prepare well-reasoned answers in advance.
I read quite a lot, and books have become a good source of information for me. The most useful book for me was “Hacking Marketing”, Which describes what techniques are used by marketers in order for the buyer to choose their brand. This information works great in interface design as well.
It is also worth paying attention to books on negotiation and psychology, among which I will note “Think Slow, Decide Fast”And“I always know just what to say”. The first helps to get rid of common misconceptions, the second provides specific tools for the negotiator.
How to present your ideas
I formed these rules, looking back on my personal experience in freelancing and in the product. I also added information obtained from communication with members of large design teams.
So, these are the rules.
Explain the essence of their work. Hiring a person from the outside, the client, as it were, says that he does not understand this topic. Consequently, he may have a misunderstanding of what you are actually doing.
When applied to design, you must explain that your job is not to create art objects, but to study the goals of the business, target audience and working solutions. Thanks to this, you will be able to convince the client that each visual decision is based not on the taste of the designer, but on specific facts.
Show erudition… Take your time with the audit, during which you try to dig up details that can be used during the presentation of the idea. Thus, you can show your competence, which significantly increase your chances of success.
Explore news from your customer’s business area. Don’t neglect adjacent areas. For example, when designing an airline website, you might want to look at the services for buying tickets for events. Pay special attention to the research, as the numbers in the presentation seem to be far more convincing than the trends.
Present in personotherwise you will face a flurry of misunderstanding. The client does not understand design and expects a miracle from your work, which is almost impossible to convey in isolation from the story that you tell during the presentation.
It is also important to understand who makes the final decision, because even presenting the project in the customer’s office, your idea may be incorrectly conveyed within the company, while by presenting the project in person, you will be able to reasonably defend each design decision.
If you have to explain your decision in a letter, pay attention to the tone. I prepare important letters in two stages. First, I write a draft of the letter and rewrite it several times until I understand that the narrative is structured logically. Then I pause and, after a while, come back and, if necessary, make edits, paying attention to the logic and tone. This rule is very useful, as I have felt more than once that my letter sounded aggressive at first. I left it for a couple of hours, and it happened that later I did not send it at all.
In the era of instant messengers, it is increasingly difficult for us to think before doing anything. You can send a message only by pressing Enter, and thinking and editing takes time and energy. It is sad that this practice is turning into professional correspondence. You know the Slack slogan: “Where Work Happens”. I do not like it, because I consider such services only tools, while the work happens in the head, when you work on ideas and when communicating, when you spread your ideas. Slack is very convenient, but do not forget that work does not happen in it, but freezes.
Work together with the client. In addition to finding a partner, you will be able to minimize the likelihood of failure, because now you are responsible for every decision together. Thanks to this, your final presentation will not be an exam, but will become a pleasant formality, like awarding a winner.
Working together doesn’t mean delivering Sketch to the client. Your customer knows their industry well and is therefore a great source of information. Just don’t ask about customer needs. This is not the purpose of communication. The customer can explain how his business is working now. Your task is to determine how it will work tomorrow.
And finally –do morethan you were asked to. A classic tender brief includes a main page and one or two internal ones. Do not be fooled by provocation. Stop thinking in terms of pages and show the user-product interaction from the entry point to the targeted action. Amaze the customer!
“Every time you send your work to a client, you have to hit him on the spot and show him something that he did not expect. Your work must be flawless in terms of design and technical execution “- from the book”Burn your portfolio”.