Explaining the ideas behind our UX decisions is a very important part of the design process. We can iterate on our designs for a very long time but in reality all (well, most) projects must end and all parties must eventually come to a consensus and make final decisions.
LET THE DESIGN TAKE CENTER STAGE
Depending on the nature of the project and the relationship with a particular client, it could prove to be quite difficult to communicate your point of view in a way that achieves buy-in from stakeholders easily.
No one wants to go in circles and waste time, so arriving at mutual understanding early is key to establishing trust and a good pace for deliverables on both ends. Most importantly – this allows the product to take center stage, and not anyone’s ego…
So how can we become more impactful when communicating ideas to clients?
1. Explain how your idea might create better value for the client beyond design
Does your idea make development easier? Does it save time, money, or effort?
Although the User should remain at the center of all UX decisions, clients can’t complain when a good usability decision also saves them time and money.
2. Create supporting materials for your idea
I am not suggesting we start creating excessive documentation for every single thought we want to express, but to effectively communicate an idea to often non-technical stakeholders we must present it in a way they can understand.
We must remember that as UX designers, we posses a unique ability to visualize abstract thoughts in the form of an interface, other people may not think that way, so bringing a visual mockup, simple wireframe, a screenshot of a similar interface, or simply sketching it on a white board can go a long way.
3. Don’t be afraid to share an idea that might not be perfect
I wish all of my ideas were great, but let’s face it – that isn’t the case. Some of my ideas are halfway-decent and voicing them is important because they can lead to even better ideas in a group discussion.
Leave your ego at the door and come to discuss ideas, good or bad, in the spirit of collaboration.
4. Backup with research
UX Designers often rely on heuristic evaluation and simple instincts to know what works and what doesn’t. Even if you were always spot-on with your instincts you should always have some research to backup your design thinking. A good place to start is analytics.
5. Voice your ideas early
If you have been silent for most of the process and suddenly decide to voice an opinion at the very end, chances are your idea won’t get buy in very easily. Being silent and not collaborative could potentially make you seem resistant or simply as though you have no ideas at all, so when an idea finally does come from you – clients are less likely to trust that it is of value.
That isn’t to say that you should do all the talking and say every single thing that’s on your mind, this would only make you seem as though you have no ability to listen and internalize. Voicing your opinions early simply means: Don’t wait for the last minute to show that you care about the project.
That’s my list. Is there anything I’ve missed?
How do you get buy-in from your client?