Friday, April 04, 2008

Bringing Humanity Back into the Design Process

Courtesy ronnieb51 of

Almost every designer I know experiences those times when their client comes to them with design solutions. Granted, clients who know their business need to be listened to. But there are those times when clients don't want to discuss their business strategy. They would rather discuss colors, pictures, fonts, and other "fun" stuff. But is that the fault of the client?

No, it's our fault. The graphic design field as a profession has taken serious hits since computers have risen in importance. Too many designers find it easier to create endless aesthetic changes rather than approaching design as problem-solving visual communication. What I mean is that too many of us sit down with a client to discuss design, rather than solving their problem. The client needs to be encouraged to share their expertise and to think how we fit into their solution approach.

Where's the love? Graphic design that appeals

But more importantly we need to demonstrate to clients how to evaluate solutions. We need to show them that it isn't the design that appeals to them that matters as much as what appeals and communicates to their target markets. They may know this intuitively, but we would do well demonstrating an understanding of their unique insight so that they can trust our solutions.

Not look and feel. Just the facts.

I am not saying this is easy. I fail at this many times. But I found that if I approach my initial meetings as fact-gathering sessions, I will not only understand the client's problem, but the client is less likely to discuss design solutions and more likely to deal primarily with her business concerns.

Then, as professionals, we can come to an initial agreement on approach. I don't present any design solutions until we have a working design brief to follow. The design brief is good for laying out, in writing, what problem we are trying to solve, how we plan to solve it, and what constitutes success. This document will then serve as a way to evaluate possible design solutions.

I try to keep my process and designs separate from me personally. This helps keep the client interaction more objective.

It isn't easy as I said before. But it is worth it in the long run. Both for us as designers, and for our profession.

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