If ‘Everyone is a Designer’ then why am I here? (2)

Darian O'Reilly / Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Part 2: Getting it Done

In Part 1 we covered setting boundaries and expectations for stakeholders during project definition and discovery. Getting your project off to a good start is essential to a smooth experience later on.

Part 1 Recap

Step 1 - DEFINE - Understand what the user wants and needs.

· DO ask your stakeholders for technology requirements, existing style guide, logo(s), marketing goals, target user groups, and accessibility requirements.

· DO NOT ask for examples of things they like.

Step 2 - DISCOVER - Find out more about the ‘personality’ of the project. Gain valuable information to inform design direction.

· DO hold a Design Workshop that is framed from the perspective of project and company goals.

· DO NOT ask for personal opinions – or voice your own.

Step 3 - DESIGN - Time to create something. Ideate, prototype, test, repeat.

Here is where a lot of designers make the mistake of skipping ahead and working on full-blown visual designs. That is a mistake that will be likely to waste your time. Once you have all of those ‘design adjectives’ from the workshop that you held, you can take them and turn them into style tiles. Think of these like a mood board for the project. They are not in any way full screens, just a sampling of elements that will be used in the final design like buttons, fonts, color palette, and form fields. As the name suggests, they provide the clients with options for the visual style of the project.

While your stakeholders are mulling over their style tile choices, that is the time to work on wireframes and prototypes. This is where a tool like Indigo Studio comes in handy as it allows you to put together interactions designs and screen layouts very quickly and to make updates and additions on demand to nail down the entire functionality and structure of the project before any visual design is involved. Project teams love to have something that they can play around with so they can get a real sense of how their product will work.

Only after the wireframes and prototyping is finalized should you start creating visual design screens which marry the interaction design with the style that was selected earlier in the project.

Step 3 Recap

DO create style tiles, then wireframes and/or a prototype, and only then, visual design screens.

DO NOT jump right into full design screens.

Step 4 - DELIVER - Provide developers everything they need to bring the project to life.

Awesome, you have created a useful solution that your stakeholders had lots of input in and they think it is beautiful and everyone lives happily ever after. Your work here is done.

Not so fast.

Who is going to build this thing? And what will it look like when they are done?

You can’t just deliver a PSD file and a prototype link and wish them luck. No matter how many folders and labels you have, it’s not enough and unless you get very lucky, the project will absolutely not be built the way that you intended it to be.

For your design work to look and work as you intend it to once it has been built, you need to provide developers with a design specification document detailing every nitty gritty thing about the project from colors and sizing to grid layout, every pixel of your design must be documented.

Step 4 Recap

DO provide full design specifications and annotated wireframes at the end of the project.

DO NOT give the project team a PSD and wish them luck.

If you include these four elements in your project plan, your stakeholders will feel like you really listened to them and took their preferences into consideration when designing their product. In turn, you will maintain control of the design process and protect it from artistic derailment; attaining the elusive goal of including all of the stakeholders in the design process without ruining the design.