Throughout the years I had more experience working with Developers than with Designers. However in the past two years I got more immersed with managing and creating design. One of the key goals I had was to structure the processes that would allow me to prove my designs.
Design is not an exact science yet it still has rules. That means that there is a way of creating design but no way of knowing in advance if it’s good for the cause. I believe that there are tools and processes we can use to increase the probability of it being good and more so, convincing others that it is it too.
Tools for proving design
Trends give an overarching view of where people, industry, designers and technology is heading at. Trend research usually solidifies the past two years of an area. When researching trends you are tracking growth and development of seeds of inspiration and monitor if they grow into a trend. From the data you create a trends report that groups the data in meaningful ways. In addition it helps reminding the stakeholder of things they’ve seen and reassure them that you have considered them.
Measurements and evaluation
Being patient and focused is a rare treat with designers. There is always this drive to change and inspire, to revolutionize to make it interesting again. However it is extremely important to harness that creativity for critic and incremental development too. Reflecting on you design, testing and measuring it is a key necessity for proving it to others. To be able to prove a new concept you should measure the previous one, or in case it’s completely new, measure it in comparison to other concepts.
You can measure design by conducting user testing, doing focus groups or even guerrilla testing internally. If the measurements to which you test are agreed and respected by the stakeholders it gives your design a substantial support.
To gain reliability for your design you can’t just settle for internet desk research. For example judging a product review on an app has very limited information. Talking to well known experts helps you learn from people who founded the industry and gives reliability in case your stakeholders know them. Moreover these experts or advisors cycle trough many companies and sometimes have more sense of what happening overall. Experts shouldn’t be just Design experts, they could be technology, strategy, marketing etc.
Bench marking is an activity we do naturally all the time. We always compare our product to others and sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side. From my experience it looks greener when we don’t understand the strategy well or refuse to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of our workplace.
Keep a catalog of things that interest you and try to cluster and compare to see improvements and direction. Be mindful of the limitation is poses on your mind, not everything should be catch-up. The fact that the market hadn’t done something doesn’t mean you’ve identified a glamourised opportunity, it just means that you aught to find the reason it’s not there and then see if it matches the company’s strategy.
Whether you create it or relay on strategy it is always important to understand it and interpret it in a way that will show linkage between it and your design. Strategy usually relays on knowing the current situation, the goal and how to get there. Change log is very valuable for this purpose, track you competitor and try to assume what’s their strategy and use that to your advantage.
History / company DNA
Looking at the history of your company is extremely important. Know the past to learn for the future. Somewhere there might be a database of useful information about success stories and failures. The faster you understand how the company gained its success you’d understand if your direction is aligned with theirs. Be mindful of politics, you might present something someone else did and the current stakeholder excessively want to change.
Designing together helps gain support on the ground and puts the design suggestion under multiple lens. It is also essential to be able to learn more about the company, the more communication the more knowledge forms which helps designing better.
Using these tools is not enough, you’ve got to tell a story. This is because each one of these tests could be weak due to lack of understanding of the method, realization you’ve got the problem right but not the solution, contradictions in within and many more potential problems. When weaved into a compelling story you can prevent the other side from drifting too much to a certain area. You highlight the options to the areas that are related to what you researched.
A good designer breaks the product and its context to bits, make sense of them, looks from different lens and reconstruct it better.
Thank you for everyone that helped me and advised me about this post: Carlos Wydler, Oded Ben Yehuda.