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Demystifying Design

Demystifying Design

  • New faces of collaboration

    From the ubiquitous Post-it® Note to Post-it® Dry Erase Surface, Post-it® Brand offers a number of tools to bring out the very best collaborative experiences amongst your colleagues. However, we know that collaboration isn’t simply limited to tools — nor is it confined to a handful of techniques. That’s why we’ve teamed with Jeff Gothelf — a speaker and thought leader on the future of user experience and design — to offer his approach to collaboration and the benefits gained from sharing & working together.

  • Designers are makers who craft solutions to problems that plague customers, clients and at times, society as a whole. How we actually design and arrive at viable solutions is a mystery to most. Some believe this mystery helps us maintain the perceived value of design in our organizations. In today’s world—a world craving more and better design—however, this mystery is actually holding us back as a profession.

  • Opening the kimono

    As designers, we must demystify the way we work. We must make our tools accessible, our jargon more mainstream, and our processes transparent to our teams. We must educate our colleagues and welcome them into our world.

    Inevitably, designers will resist such a movement. The first counter-argument is that non-designers simply won’t understand everything that goes into a solution. Concepts such as white space, information hierarchy, and color theory (to name just three) cannot be fully explained during a design review meeting. Others will say that it diminishes the unique value a designer brings to a project. If everyone can offer an opinion on how to design a solution then everyone, in essence, is a designer, no? In short, the designer is no longer the hero.

  • Demystification is powerful

    We must work more closely and collaboratively with our teammates, colleagues, and clients. Collaborative teams have trust. Trust stems from transparency between roles. As designers, we need to bring this transparency to our processes. There are several ways this can manifest, whether you’re job title has the word “designer” in it or not:



    1. Don’t wait for ideas to be “finished” — as soon as you have a kernel of a thought related to solving a challenge your team is facing, put it down on paper. Skip the fancy digital tools and sketch your idea out by hand. Take that sketch to your colleagues and walk them through your thinking. If they like where you’re headed, you can refine the idea in the digital tool of your choice. If they don’t, they can help you re-sketch it, refine it and evolve it into a more appropriate approach. The nice thing here is the level of effort you’ve put in. It’s small and if the thought fails to resonate for any reason, making the changes is easier.

    2. Show your work — all too often it feels as if design “magically” appeared to someone overnight. We all know that’s not true. Many ideas came and went before the one we finally chose. Show that early work -- the rough, unfinished thoughts that didn’t make the cut — to make a more compelling case for the ideas you believe will work.

    3. Invite others to help — everyone can use a pencil and a piece of paper. They may be intimidated by ideas like “I can’t draw” but the tools themselves don’t pose a barrier to collaboration. Show up to your meeting with a stack of Post-it® Notes and colored pens and pencils. Let everyone pitch in their ideas and show them it’s ok to tear up early ideas and start over.
  • Sharing the way we work and inviting others to participate is the first step. A colleague who may have originally thought that designers simply “made things pretty” starts to realize the rigor and experience that goes into each design decision. When the entire team understands the challenges of balancing brand, business and consumer needs in a solution, the true depth of design is revealed. Not only is design’s value clarified, but the designer’s skill and expertise become evident.

    Plus, the input non-designers provide during the design phase will ultimately show up in the work—or at the very least they will perceive that you heard them. Feelings of ownership in the project increase, creating a team that is more invested in the success of the work which directly translates to improved product quality.

  • Jeff Gothelf

    Jeff Gothelf is a lean UX evangelist, spreading the gospel of great team collaboration, product innovation and evidence-based decision making. He is the co-author (with Josh Seiden) of “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience” and the upcoming “Sense and Respond” (sensingbook.com)

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