7 Things Designers Can Learn From Engineers.
by Ros Lawson
In the world of design & marketing, not all clients will “get” the work you do. They may know that they need A service, but they are not always sure what the service is or why they need it. It is our role to guide and educate our clients into understanding our industry for the betterment of our work and our world.
1. Keep your communication clear & concise
Each professional industry tends to communicate through it’s own carefully constructed jargon. Designers speak visually, developers speak technically & marketers speak fluffy! When dealing with clients who are not constantly around our industry, it is imperative to keep your communication clear and concise. I’m talking problem, resolution and outcome for every stage of the process, using standard universal English / layman’s terms.
Furthermore, tell the client, and the user, exactly what they are getting & why. Find out the USP & use it as your foundation. If the product, service, brand or solution is truly great, you shouldn’t have to use jargon, clear communication will be enough. Having to decipher any more than they need to will drive client’s bonkers and they will quickly lose interest!
2. Use critical thinking & provide reasoning for every decision
When designing a product, campaign or resolution, never make a decision, addition or removal without having used critical thinking. If you can’t explain why you done it, you shouldn’t have bothered. Every sentence, button and colour choice should be a result of deep thought and criticism or else you will have a confused client on your hands.
3. Ruthlessly critique & test your solutions
If it’s broke, fix it. Go through every step of your proposal, interface, brand or design with a fine-tooth analytical comb. Pick it apart. Hold team meetings for the sole purpose of critiquing your decisions to find any holes that need patching. Have more than one department/team member test the finished interface, re-read the proposal and always print the design. Conclude if there is solid logic associated with what you are about to present, if not re-work it!
4. Minimise risk through precision
The world of engineering is associated wholly and solely with minimising risk. One small mistake can cause their buildings to fall or their bridges to topple. The precise work ethic associated with their work, is also expected of you. If you have tested your solutions and you are able to articulate this, then your client will feel more assured that the solution your are presenting is appropriate and their decision making process will be easier!
5. Be accountable & take ownership
Own your role and be accountable for all of your decisions. If you are using adequate testing, thinking & deliberation, you should know your work back to front. Every question should be able to be answered strongly and eloquently. Any changes or hiccups should be accepted with full ownership and truth, which will gain the respect and trust of your clients.
6. Stick to your strengths & delegate the rest
This goes both ways. Both you and your client should recognise this equally. If the client does not recognise this initially, it is your job to prove your worth through strong communication and great work. To provide the best value on any project, you should be focusing all of your energy on your strengths. Try not to wear more than one hat. Outsource or delegate tasks to people who know each area best, this engenders trust. Teams are stronger than individuals.
7. Good teamwork comes through humility
There is generally an avoidable tension in intelligent/creative roles. It is important that you leave your ego at the door. There will always be someone better than you at your role, recognise and accept this, whilst keeping your confidence. A fluid group of intellect is always stronger than the individual. This will also empower the client and your team, building your relationship at a fundamental level.
I hope these points can provide some practical value for you and your clients.
Wishing you all a wonderful week,
Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this article & follow for future posts. I’ll be sure to respond to any questions or suggestions!
Ros is a brand, marketing & business consultant & Founder of RLD Strategic.