No edits: How to become the happiest designer on the planet
Three months ago I designed a corporate website. Having good experience, I took the task seriously: I conducted an audit of the industry, defined the goals of the business, described the tasks of the users, and based on all this, I created a pleasant and convenient interface. But despite my best efforts, my design was rejected. I received a long list of edits, got upset and, in order not to write anything superfluous, closed my laptop and went outside.
The fresh metropolitan air took effect, and I began to understand what was the matter. The design was good, and the customer was quite adequate. The problem that thousands of designers around the world turned out to be facing was different.
At the start of my career, receiving a list of edits, I immediately started editing layouts, and then sent them back. The result of such communication was unfinished interfaces and dialogs of the following content:
– This is complete bullshit!
– But I did everything as you said!
– You’re a designer. I don’t have to tell you what to do and how.
It took a long time before I realized that such conflicts had nothing to do with the quality of the layouts and the personality of the client, because year after year the level of my work increased, new customers appeared, but such dialogues still arose. Realizing that the point is different, I looked at this situation from the outside and saw what many miss when working with a client.
Around the same time, I was finishing the excellent book, Burn Your Portfolio, whose author argued that networking and communication affect success as much as the quality of work. These words, together with personal experience, made me look at the process of working with a client in a new way.
Putting myself in the client’s shoes, I realized something. He does not understand anything in design, but only expects a wow-effect from our work, but when he receives static layouts, most of which consist of white space, he freezes in bewilderment.
To avoid this, I explain to the client from the very beginning that the essence of a designer’s work is not in creating special effects, but in solving business problems. The second thing that is important to mention is that every visual solution is based not on the taste preferences of the designer, but on the understanding of the target audience of the service. Having fixed this at the beginning, the client will understand that designers are not descendants of great artists, but, at least, people who use facts and logic. Realizing this, the client will evaluate your work through the lens of business problems, not visual expectations.
After that, I stopped sending layouts by mail. The ideal option is a personal meeting or at least a call. The client will certainly have questions that you must answer reasonably, showing your preparedness. And if you are not there, then instead of reasoned answers, the client will make erroneous conclusions that will lead your communication towards small details, the discussion of which can drag on and alienate you from the main goal.
I do not recommend sending a link to a prototype to InVision, since the ability to leave comments in one click will bring you a huge list of sometimes inadequate questions and, again, will lead you away from the main task.
A great option is video. Demonstrate the main user journey from entering the service to the target result. The client will get the expected wow effect and will immediately see how your solution simplifies the use of the product.
How to mail layouts without screwing up
There are times when you still have to send layouts by mail. In this case, I can advise a few things:
– Be sure to describe the process of your work. Why did you do it this way and not the other way. Why should this button be right here, why is it red, and so on. This will show that every decision you make is valid.
– Submit your video. It’s very easy to create animations in Principle, more difficult in Framer and After Effects. There was a time, I was creating a presentation of the project in Apple Keynote (the project was accepted).
– Before submitting layouts, answer simple questions to help avoid commonplace mistakes. Is the main purpose of the user clear on every page? Does the gaze stop at the right elements and in the right sequence? Is there a visual hierarchy? Does the visual weight of the elements match their role in the interface? Are there any spelling or punctuation errors?
– And, finally, re-read the task and check it against the decision.
When I started using these methods, my work began to be accepted more often without editing, as a result of which there was an increase in confidence and job satisfaction, which for a designer is happiness.
One more thing
Remember the beginning of the article. The client is not satisfied with the work, and the designer considers the reproaches to be unfounded. Why is this happening? Why are two professionals in their field in conflict? Perhaps because they simply do not understand each other? It may well be.
The client does not understand the essence of the designer’s work, while the designer, receiving strange questions, considers the client inadequate. As a result, two seemingly reasonable people are in conflict.
But such cases occur regularly. Remember the stories when long-term friendship collapses, couples disperse, business partners are suing, wars begin. Think about this when you’re not having a good conversation. It doesn’t matter with whom. Perhaps you, as a customer with a designer, simply do not understand each other. Just don’t hear. But this separates us so much from what we are striving for – happiness.