Designing a product, is in many ways much like writing a novel. It is very hard to get it right the first time. It requires iterations, improvements and adjustments.
As you move through designing and building a product, you learn through quantitative and qualitative data and you change your perspective. So you change the design. That is how it should be.
Different iterations, presentations and meetings come and go, months pass by, and it becomes easy to lose focus on why you made certain decisions in the past, and chose to go in one design direction versus another.
That is why I try to keep these three questions always in my mind at the beginning and during the design process.
Is it important & why?
When designers do great work, people notice. We get a seat at the table. Then everyone wants design to help them. But you can only design well so many things. Good design takes time. So sometimes you have to turn people down. Life is short and I want to focus my design efforts into things that will change the game, improve peoples lives and have an impact on the bottom line. Keeping the focus of why what I am doing matters, and how it matters helps me to maintain my focus and energy throughout the harder parts of the project.
What is the user goal?
This is probably the easiest thing to lose track of. Product managers, engineers, sales people, they all look at the designs 10 times a day. They have their own priorities. They give you feedback all the time.
What about the user? You get user feedback, but I am almost 100% sure it is not nearly as much feedback as you get from everybody else. That is why it is so easy to lose focus on what the user cares about.
As a designer it is your responsibility to make sure you NEVER lose track of the user.
What is the business goal?
Ah, but I just said it is the designer’s job to keep the user goal in mind. That is true. But it is also true that if you lose the business goal within the long design process, getting any design solutions built will be virtually impossible. Keeping tabs on monetization strategies and business targets is as important as making sure your user is having a great experience. And yes, business goals and user goals can be aligned through design to create a great experience.
Keep these three questions in mind. Look at them everyday. Ask them to yourself consistently and most importantly, answer them honestly. Your users and your co-workers will thank you for it.
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