Design Is a Conversation

Design has never and will never be a finished thought. It is always a conversation.

Consider the design process:

A client comes to a designer or design team with a felt need or request, that may or may not actually address the problem or opportunity. A conversation is needed to identify the true problems and area of focus.

For a designer, the dialog shifts (often only in the form of inner thought) between ideas and execution, between creating new solutions and problem-solving old ones, between saying yes and saying no.

For the creative team (project management, strategy, creative, designers, and more), the conversation transitions from discussing goals, needs, audiences and customers, to embracing themes and directions, to reducing and cutting, and finally to what and how to present to the client.

At every intersection, the client and the creative team must discuss impressions and concerns, personal reactions and perceived audience reactions, the business implications, offering excitement or doubt, concern and praise.

When the work is launched, the conversation’s not over. It’s just beginning.

The design will speak to everyone who sees or uses it — sometimes communicating its intended purpose and sometimes (more often than we think) sending unintentionally signals.

The audience, customer, or user will respond. Some will simply ignore it, telling the design that it missed the mark. For others, maybe more than a few, the design will resonate, causing them to do something, think differently, or interact with the design in some form or fashion.

And finally, for just a few, the design might strike a chord and start a wider conversation between even more people. It might even start a movement where people respond by creating something bigger and greater than the design itself.

Do you see it now?

Design is never a singular statement, but always a dialog.

If you agree that this is true, consider the implications:

If you touch design as a consumer (as we all do), it would behoove you to understand the techniques and approaches used by design that bombard us daily.

If your work depends on using design or designers, the more able you are to converse using the language of design, the more effective you (and your work) will be.

And if you are able to reach design fluency, you will have tremendous power. Not only will you be able to influence decisions and people in your immediate work, but you will have ability to reach people anywhere in the world—To start a conversation, join into an ongoing dialog, or maybe even launch a movement that could change the world itself.


Daniel speaks the language of design.

He is an independent consultant that works with creative teams, using the power of brand, strategy, and messaging.

If you need someone to facilitate your design conversations, let’s talk.