Designer, sell your idea! Or no one will know about you

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 grasp the essence of your idea, although for you it seemed 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 fought for several weeks on the concept of a site for a tender, and they ended up with some 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 stocks 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 built 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 have 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 theme. Therefore, 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 an 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, it might not hurt to look through the services for buying tickets for events. Pay special attention to the research, as the numbers in the presentation look much 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 can defend every design decision with reason.

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 interaction of the user and the product 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”.

For a presentation to be successful, you must convey one thought to the customer: your design solution is the result of deep analytics that gave you an understanding of what the business needs. And, only based on this data, this solution was created and the visual style was chosen.

“You need to genuinely focus on the task of the business. Alas, many specialists still focus mainly on their own earnings and their own ego. All statements must be confirmed not by fictitious trends (incomprehensible to the customer), but by specific numbers and data that you managed to get ”- says Artem Gorodetsky (Art director at designstudio.AG).

The main rule of presentation

Remember, the client needs your solution. Your presentation should not have the message “I have an idea. How do you like it? ”. You are a competent professional who knows his job perfectly. You don’t have to make excuses and wait for approval. You just need to do your job well and present it correctly.

Finally, I will give an example from the history of the NeXT company.

Steve Jobs needed a logo and turned to renowned designer Paul Rand. Jobs asked how many options Rand would present to him, to which Rand replied that he did not produce options.

“I solve your problem, and you pay me. You can use my product or not, but options are out of the question and you will pay me anyway. “

Less than 1% of designers can afford to respond in this way, but despite this, every designer must value and demonstrate their professionalism. And there is only one way to do this – to show how your solution will help your business make money.

The last question remains. What to do with a design ego that sometimes screams louder than reason? It’s not that hard to deal with. Once you immerse yourself in a problem and show empathy for the business, reason will replace the ego and your job will change forever.


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