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Moving from Confrontation to Collaboration

Paul Boag made an interesting argument when speaking about ‘the battlefield of design: designers vs clients’ at this years Future of Web Design (FOWD) conference. The key points covered were much alike those of which I’ve learnt throughout my studies at the University of the West of England (UWE) prior to my placement at Wired Media.

The focus of the discussion was that us designers and developers have a terrible habit of hiding away what we’re doing until ready to present a final product to the client; which invariably doesn’t suit their needs, a much more successful and proven approach being that of a user-centric design process, getting the client and their users involved in the development of websites and applications. By getting involved with the client and their business/organisation we provide ourselves with a means of better understanding the aims and objectives of the client and what they want to achieve from working with us.

But is that enough we ask? whilst understand the needs of a client and having them involved in the various stages of a design process is paramount; equally important is understand the needs of the users; the people who are going to be using the website or application. Usability studies have been proven to have a large impact on the success of a design process, by testing designs on a selection of real prospective users it allows for us to see where there are flaws in applications and test various solutions of them.

Focus on Problems not Solutions

Paul also mentioned how he is frequently having issues with clients reducing designers to mere ‘pixel pushers’. The solution? to focus on problems, not solutions, rather than telling the designer you want a text colour changed or something moved, tell them what you want to achieve; be that giving the design more room to breathe or simply to increase attention to specific areas of a web page, they may have a better way to do it; and by telling the designer the solution rather than the problem it’s suppressing and wasting their creative capabilities.

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