After years of presenting deliverables to clients (designs, wireframes, websites, etc.) we have learned that we can never predict a client’s reaction with total confidence. This is not only because design is subjective but because we may have a different vision of the final product.
Since we aren’t going to nail the design 100% on the first try, it’s important to design quickly and iteratively — together with our client. The sooner we can bring an idea to reality, the sooner our client can bring reality to our idea. Here’s our approach:
We’ve adopted lo-fi (i.e. napkin-sketch-quality work) design techniques in our first interactions with new clients. Once an idea is on paper (or whiteboard), we can quickly iterate designs, working together while referencing the same product.
When everyone is working together and on the same page, it’s easy to focus on the product and ask “why,” instead of the typical, “what.”
“What colors did we choose for the palette?”
“What layout choices did we make?”
“What content did we use for the headline?”
Real breakthroughs occur when we ask “why”:
“Why did you think that particular color made sense?”
“Why did you want the buttons to appear so large?”
“Why did you lead with that particular message?”
It’s only when we ask “why” that we really understand whether we are designing for ourselves, for our client, or our client’s audience. It’s only when we’re designing for our client’s audience that we truly succeed.
Ross Beyeler co-founded For Art's Sake Media, Inc., a technology company servicing the art industry, and Growth Spark, a design and technology consultancy focused on helping eCommerce and B2B service companies excel. (Growth Spark has completed over 225 projects and led Ross to a 2010 nomination as one of BusinessWeek's Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25).