Setting up mindset for the real purpose of design to become the Great Designer
There’s very critical, yet common mistake most Designers make at some point (usually early) during their careers, including myself, that prevents them from achieving better results.
Designers tend to design things based on their personal taste, opinion and aesthetics, without considering the main purpose their designs should satisfy – positive business outcome. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, we naturally try to make designs for ourselves, forgetting why it is should be designed in the first place.
I see few reasons why it may be happening:
Creative professionals can’t think clearly and objectively about their creation. It’s easy to get caught in a situation, when you spend your time and energy making some products you “assume you know all about” and then face the fact that solutions you’re providing are not reflecting the actual need of real world.
It’s much easier to create something you think you’re 100% good at, without allowing the thought that you may not know something, and then take a time and effort to do some constant research, analysis and implementation of that knowledge.
There’s a lot of pressure regarding the time and impact expected from a Designer, that it’s impossible for some of us to ask questions from executives, stakeholders, clients and users, and feel embarrassed, that sometimes it’s easier to skip these steps and get straight to execution, even though it is far from what’s actually needed to be done.
In many cases Designer role is taught as purely creative profession, like an artist, rather than more practical and logical engineering role. But the reality is that Designers are more engineers than artists.
Art is about making questions. Design is about making solutions. © John Maeda
The danger of purely creative Design approach
The results of ignoring business objectives could be crucial to a Designer’s career.
Without satisfying business needs: you get payed less, don’t make any significant impact, don’t provide enough value to the society by making things nobody needs, don’t contribute to the positive change of the world, and not learning important things to change your own life for better.
And moreover, you may screw up other people’s business, lives and expectations, thus ruin your own reputation and career as well. So taking a step forward and avoiding these mistakes is vital for success.
Simple dependency of business driven design
How to know what’s required to do your best work as a Designer?
To help you better understand important business objectives, you need to know this chain of dependency in any business process hierarchy:
Step 1. In order to be valued as the Great Designer you have to satisfy business goals and needs.
Step 2. Any business’ goals and needs usually come down to driving more revenue and profit.
Step 3. In order to drive more profit, customers of the business need to pay for the products/services that business provides to them.
Step 4. Customers are willing to pay, if they get high value from those products and services.
So ultimately you, as a Designer, need to provide high value of products/services to your users, not to your manager, stakeholder, investor, marketer, colleague etc., or even yourself.
Practical actions to a great business driven design
So how you actually make sure you do your best work as a Designer and deliver maximum value to your users, and ultimately to your business?
It all comes down to your mindset. In order to change your design approach for business benefit – you need to do few important things and the counterintuitive part of it is, that they’re not about the design itself:
Become a listener
Either you’re brainstorming for concepts of new ideas, or working on a design brief for new task, or iterating to improve existing solution – you have to listen first, and only then expose your vision. This part is extremely useful, because it creates a lot of insight that you can use later to generate bold ideas and implement them into your designs. The point is that you’re not your business owner, nor client, nor end user, and you never generate a better idea for your designs than your direct customers. If someone has something to tell you, stay quiet and let them do it!
I believe that the whole idea of UI/UX Designer role comes down to be able to ask the right questions at the right time. I think more than a half of our work comes down to user testing, surveys, interviews and other research activities. And even the whole collaboration is about asking each other question, whether it’s your boss, client, teammate or end customer. This part allows us to proactively generate educated decisions about any aspect of the products that we’re building, and not asking questions simply leaves you with designs based completely on your random guess.
Question every move
It’s impossible to come up with flawless designs from the start. Nobody can do that, trust me. So it’s important to cultivate constant revisions of everything that you do by yourself. You not even have to doubt the ideas of everyone involved in the loop, but especially your own ones. Because you’re the professional who’s responsible for the end result of your designs, since you have the power to do the product all the way from concept to final implementation.
This is huge! You’re not here for the sake of art, creating deep symbolic visuals that have no concrete purpose and meaning. You’re here to solve direct and pretty straight forward problems your users have. They have some strong pain, and by removing this pain you provide real value that people will pay you to get. That’s how best job offers are received, top careers are achieved, big clients are landed, unicorn startups are build, massive impact is created and hight business outcome is reached.
Practice vs theory
But again, understanding this business driven design approach is nowhere enough to be the Great Designer. You have to do the effort to constantly implement it in your everyday work.
Leave comments if you have any questions or tips. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience.
And also feel free to contact me if you’re running business and need help to create user experience that makes the difference, impacts your users and ultimately drives incredible business outcome.
As always, thanks for reading. I highly appreciate your interest and support. Check out my blog for more articles, and share it, if you like it.