Three Rounds and Still Standing

by Jesse Leyh, Designer at Fastspot

It seems like the majority of boxing films have one of the contenders taking a dive in the third round. Not us. Our first round designs may not always land their punches. But we have three rounds of design baked into almost every project, and we always exit the ring together with you — gloved-hand-in-gloved-hand — winners, all.

Sticking with this boxing theme, we don’t actually throw punches. But we do push. That’s what first round concept designs often are — a good, hard shove in the direction our months of research and discovery have guided us.

Often we find ourselves in more of a ballet as we collaborate to revise and refine our steps in pursuit of a finalized design concept. But once in awhile, that first design we deliver lands us on the ropes.

It’s not my fault

Sometimes things end up out of alignment. The stars, your back, and yes — your team and ours. Maybe a key objective got lost in translation. Maybe internal goals shifted between when the project kicked off and when design started. Or maybe the design includes a picture of that guy who was fired for embezzling millions from your organization (hasn’t happened yet, but it could!).

Whatever the reason, you might find yourself staring down a design that leaves you wondering if you’ve made a huge mistake. It happens.

The answer is no, you haven’t. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t panic. Here are a couple of things that you should do instead.

Trust the process

You’re going to have a reaction to the design, and you’re going to have suggestions for how to improve it. This is normal. It’s expected. Hell — it’s part of the budget, so you’d better get your money’s worth! Our Creative Director has some good advice for giving constructive feedback.

Once you send your feedback, the ball is back in our court (I know, I know — different sport). And that’s where it should be. Now that we have it back, let us dazzle you with our skills. As designers, a huge part of our job is to listen and interpret. Just the fact that you’ve been able to write four pages of in-depth feedback probably has you feeling anxious. There’s just too much for us to correct, right? We probably just need to start over. Do we really even get your organization at all?

No, no and we do. And we can also read between the lines. Parsing through detailed feedback can be like trying to read poetry — the words that are on the page often belie a deeper, different or more complicated meaning. You might not even be fully aware of the themes or undercurrents your feedback indicates. But this is what we do. We listen. We interpret. And then we iterate.

Remember your users

Design aesthetics are subjective. You may hate the color #F3A733, love iconography and have an allergy to whitespace. Half of your team may feel the exact opposite. And while it is, of course, important for you to feel excited about what your new site will look like, remember that you are not your users. Nor are we out to aesthetically please every one of your users. There will be some (plenty) who don’t like the new site. There will be more who do. But what we’re really after is usability.

It can be difficult to maintain that user-centric point-of-view over the entire course of the redesign process, but it’s essential. Because that’s why we’re all here, right?

Call a timeout

Ok, this isn’t the most comfortable section to write, but it needs to be said — sometimes calling a timeout is the right move. It’s not to be taken lightly, or to be invoked early in the process. But a quick pause can help both of our teams identify an underlying problem that hasn’t been solved via other channels. Since the day-to-day of the redesign process moves quicker than it seems, an intentional timeout allows all involved to devote the proper time and attention to solving the problem correctly, once and for all. It might even save time — and certainly aggravation — in the long run

See, there’s no need to worry! We’re very good at what we do. Sometimes it just takes a little extra effort to make sure everything is in it’s right place. But once it gets there — and it will get there — your new site is going to be a total knockout.

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