We need bigger buttons!
Sometimes clients don’t understand our working approach and comment on the designs by their gut feeling. The results are feedback like “Can you make this button bigger?”. Of course, we can... but there is a reason the button is in that size.
Designers love to complain about this issue but maybe we should try to be more empathetic. We need to take their concerns seriously and explain our approach to them. They’re just thinking from the business side and all they want is grow their business and make users happy, sounds familiar?
It is our job as designers to help clients to get a basic understanding of the design process. The reasons for that are simple. It will simplify our work a lot. After taking the time to explain everything once (or twice) our clients will be able to give better feedback. Furthermore, it contributes to a better end result - because in the end the client is the boss and makes the final decision.
But also when we take on the other perspective, as a client it is important that if you have any questions you ask your designers about their reasoning and tell them about your concerns. We can support our decisions with research and tests, especially when it comes to functionalities. Anyway, for interfaces, you should keep in mind that this is also a creative industry and many roads lead to Rome. At the end of the day, there is no exact right or wrong. At some point, you should be aware that this is the designers’ job. You are hiring not to execute your wishes but to find the best way of doing something. Therefore, you should trust their expertise and respect their decisions.
In this article, I’ll share some thoughts with you on how we can achieve better communication between clients and designers.
Convince yourself first
Being a designer is not only about drawing and being creative anymore. You should be able to find a balance between creative and logical thinking. Before making any decision, you need to understand the human impact your solution is having. You can do this by doing user research using scientific methods. By using both your expertise and the research, you can design the product, collect feedback and give it another try until you convince yourself that you found the best way. This makes it very easy to defend your decision to the others and explain how you came up with it.
This also includes testing! It’s the best way to prove what is right or wrong. Asking the users is always helpful, most of the time it surprised me and show the things that I couldn’t see by myself. There might be something that you can’t test because of the budget, time or subjectivity but try to use this source as much as you can.
All a matter of taste?
Interface design is really subjective, and we feel you, I remember that we had projects where we discuss really little parts for days. For these cases, I want to show you some methods that you can use for testing and help you to decide.
* 5 Second Test
It’s a way to measure what information users take away and what impression they get within the first five seconds of viewing a design. Keeping in mind that our attention span is decreasing every day and we’re consuming much more content compared the old days this test gains increasing importance. Find more info here.
* First Click Test
This method can help you to assess the effectiveness of your site structure and content hierarchy. You can observe what a test participant would click on first to complete their intended task.
* A/B Test
Probably you’re really familiar this one. Basically, you compare 2 (or more) different version of an element, while the rest of the interface stays the same. By showing half of your test users Version A and the other half Version B you can easily compare the performance of two different versions.
Everybody knows something you don’t
“The day we become better designers is the day we start looking outside the design industry for inspiration. It's the day we start reading books about philosophy, psychology, art or science.” Tobias Van Schneider
It's a common mistake that you fall in love with your idea and want to stick with it. Although it is very human, as a designer you need to be open to the new ideas and keep on searching the better ways to solve an issue. Clients might know more than you about their specific industry. Users might know more about specific topics. There are great sources of ideas if you know how to get the best out of them. This requires an open ear for everything they are saying and supporting them to express what they know e.g. by doing UX workshops. Even they might not be aware that they know! So be open for their feedback and if you don’t have any argument against it, you might need to change.
Information is all around
Observing the world is a great way to find inspiration. You can learn from everything and everyone: your mom, animals, cars. You just need to know how to look at it. This means going through the day with your eyes wide open and a general interest in how things work. Often solutions from one area can be applied to several other areas of life.
Since the launch of the almighty internet and especially in the last couple of years people share their knowledge online. This gives us a great opportunity to learn from others and it is for free! You can use blogs, e-books, YouTube videos and podcasts to get updates about the latest design trends and findings. Follow successful companies like Apple, Facebook and Google. They are doing great research with even greater budgets that you’ll (probably) never be able to effort. Use that source! Referring to the big players on the market can also help you to argue in favour of your design decisions.
Think out loud
So, what is the essence of all of this? To make the right decisions ourselves we do research, testing, look through trends and rely on findings of previous projects. But in the end, it is the client, who is deciding what will be realized. We couldn’t decide without all that previous knowledge we gathered, so why would expect them to do so? In the ideal case they would simply trust all our decisions, but this is not always (rather never) the case. By providing them with all necessary information (like testing results) you can support them to make the right decision and this will lead to a greater outcome for everyone involved.