Mistakes i made as a designer

Photo courtesy Pexel photos. Let the client be the pencil.

The best way one can learn is through mistakes. I learned a lot from my first project. (which also means i made lot of mistakes.) The project was from an MNC based in Sweden. We were to conduct research and prepare a detailed report that would act as a guideline for building an online platform. And then we made mistakes.

  1. Over enthusiasm — I spend four hours compiling a presentation that explained the MOM of our kickoff meeting (which was not a deliverable). Well, The client wanted to present it to his investors. MOM became the research brief that outlined the whole project. Making all the changes required, took 4 days for approval. What could have been communicated with a mail, went on for four days. Excitement is great. Spend it on what needs to be done. Work outside the “scope of work” only when it answers the following question: Does my work affect the product’s actual design? Will it affect the user experience of the product? If it does not, then keep the extra work for your team’s eyes only.
  2. Setting expectation with client — If you have a typical — “show-me-first-and-then-i-will-comment-if-you-are-right” kind of client, you will have to lead and suggest what is best for them. (Still the clients might tell “this is not what i want”.) We realized late that we were to design for any probable investors who might invest in the project. The only way to avoid it is to talk more to the client. Throughout the project before any action, Pick his/ her brain. (this is your chance to return the favor). Probe and understand what they expect. Get samples and inspirations if possible.
  3. Educating the client — We failed to educate the client with how design works and how the process works BEFORE the project started. Without providing a complete workshop, the small introduction gave wrong impressions. Similar to the typical client who mistakes colors with design, without understanding the clear distinction of attitude and behavior one cannot understand cognition. Else your client will ask you to skip observations that do not bring evident recommendations. Spend time with your client until he understands the process and rationale inside out. A one day workshop might not be sufficient.
  4. Work freedom — Like i have explained in a previous post, design freedom is very important for creative innovations. The reports made were re-written by the client. When such changes occur, the intentions and meaning conveyed changes a lot. Designing with the limited information portrayed in the report will harm the final product. This was also partly because of the next point.
  5. Understand the culture /system the client follows- The client being from a different country it would have made sense to understand the culture and the way they work. In Sweden, people tend to communicate minimally. People respect others privacy and get uncomfortable even if a stranger walks into an elevator and says hi. The culture reflected in their work too. The client wanted the report to be short. even though the concept of discussion was practically impossible to explain in a sentence and yet made sense to a layman. Understanding the culture helped us relate to the client more and speed up the tiring documentation and approval process.

The mistakes i made was progress. Support from your peers is very important when you have to crack a particularly tough client. For a designer working in usability and experience, it is essential that you apply the same while understanding and handling your clients too. Until you master the soft side of project management, Design-Live-Laugh. Happy weekend