Andy Schwanbeck introduces the value of the designer-client collaboration, how it impacts the design industry, how you can inspire your client to participate in your design process, and what advantages this kind of research can bring your designs.
- [Narrator] Welcome, if you're here with me today, then I'm going to assume a couple of things about you. You've been in the creative industry for maybe a bit of time now, you've worked with both easy and maybe not so easy clients, and you have a general feeling that good design is about more than just aesthetic. And so I'd like to talk to you about your design process. And specifically, how you can make the most of your client as a valuable source of information. And how you can invite them in as a contributor to your design process and some of the advantages that are going to come along with this.
But before we get there, let's step back for a minute. Consider what you know about the current state of the design industry. First, I think we're on an upswing of recognition in the value design brings to the table. More and more, individuals and companies alike are looking to design to help them solve their biggest problems. Second, designers are working more collaboratively and across more diverse disciplines than ever before. And I don't mean a graphic designer working with an illustrator.
I mean a graphic designer working with a strategist, working with a CEO, working with an engineer, working with a sales analyst, and so on. So this collaboration is making more and more folks aware of design. And provides opportunity for us to spread the value design services can bring to an organization. And this brings about a huge advantage to designers, because we can work to share how these intangibles of our design process work. We're in a perfect position to teach others around us to see beyond the so-called subjectivity in design and instead to learn to be a part of the objective process that leads to our best work.
Let's hold on to that idea for a second. We, the designers, we need the help of other people. I think we'd all agree there. We need specialists, users, and knowledge experts to help us understand the context of our problems so that we can do our best work. And when we invite these people into our process, we gain valuable information and they, they better understand how the design process works. They get to see all of the intangible thinking that's behind our decisions and they will hopefully connect that to value.
Value that has otherwise only known the form of aesthetic. And so this, this is a win-win for us. And it's why I'm so excited to share this material with you. So we're going to look at this instance of bringing a client into your design process. How to do it, why to do it, and everything else in between. Let's talk for a minute about when this type of research works best and then maybe when it doesn't. The first thing that can shape the way you engage with your client is how educated they are.
A start-up will likely know a completely different type of information about what they're trying to do than say, a client that's been in operation for a couple of decades. Still though, even with a small amount of experience, any client can give us insights that might take us much longer to understand on our own. A lot of what we'll cover in this course also helps when your client has a large team of stakeholders. I imagine that many of you have had an instance or two when a client team is simply not capable of coming to consensus. Maybe there's too many decision-makers or maybe there's a problem that they just don't quite understand how they want to approach.
We'll look at instances in activities like these that will allow you to help the decision-making process come along much easier and more fluid in your design process. Another thing that will commonly come up is a really undefined problem area. Maybe you need to understand more about a company's operations, their users, employee perceptions, message platforms. Generally speaking, the client is much more of an expert here than we sometimes give them credit for. And working with them can help make sense of really complicated problems.
One of the most challenging ways to work is when a client is also an end user. And this happens a lot in branding because a good brand needs as much buy-in internally as it does externally. This also happens when it comes to the design of services and processes. Imagine a company that's wanting to improve the way they bring the service of hot coffee to you each morning. Your job is as much about understanding the employees, the company structure, and how they brew that coffee, as it is the coffee drinker who wants that hot coffee. So let's come back to that question from the beginning.
How can we designers facilitate a stronger collaborative partnership with our clients? Let's answer the how first. We facilitate a stronger collaborative partnership with our clients by bringing them into our design process at key points to help us understand important information. Information that we would likely not find from any other source. And we do this by facilitating work sessions where through research activities, the client becomes an active and valuable member of our design process.
And why? It informs us of information that we might not otherwise get. It helps us to build consensus with our client to make important decisions and it helps us show our client how valuable the intangible thinking of our process is to reaching our final solution.
- Defining the problem and setting early goals
- Understanding your client's organization and expertise level
- Establishing your research questions
- Inviting the right players
- Leading a workshop
- Identifying trends, patterns, and outliers
- Creating documentation that explains your design research