What I learnt this week: Designers — No one cares about the design like you do
A weekly reflection of what I have learnt this week as a Digital Product Designer
This week I had to deal with the issue of design noting being implemented correctly. Specifically, it was bespoke, pixel perfect icons that I had created and when viewing the live site once it had been built, it was clear that these icons were not being used. As I work in a team, my colleague was the one to spot the difference and was outraged that this had happened. The frustration was mainly around that fact that there was a lot of time and effort that went into designing the icons but also because the icons that were used in the live site were nowhere near as nice as ours — they were a random free set off the internet. That in itself isn’t bad but they were an inconsistent set, and barely had any design consideration added to them.
This whole situation got me thinking — No one cares as much as a designer does, especially as not as much a designer does about their own work. Though I believe this statement, I think there are some caveats I should add to this, I don’t believe this applies to user experience design as much. If a flow for the user is not implemented properly it will have clear, potentially catastrophic issues for the user — the user cares as much as the designer but in a different way.
Caring too much can be exhausting
Of course, we care a lot about visual design and it’s implementation, it’s our job to care. But we easily tip over too far to the other side and get caught up on details that don’t really matter. For example, the situation that occurred with the icons, in the grand scheme of things these icons being a slightly different style will not make a huge impact to the general feel of the site or affect the usability. Now I’m not saying we should constantly compromise our designs and always accept that our work won’t be implemented correctly. But I am saying that we have to recognise what battles are worth fighting. As designers, there is this notion that we are difficult (But not as difficult as developers 😉) and that we behave as though it’s our way or the highway. We’re a passionate group of people who like to uphold our craft and it’s importance but we have to be realistic in that we work for other people, it’s their brief, they’re paying us. By not choosing our battles carefully we will end running out of energy for the bigger, more meaningful issues.
Strong values are important but so is empathy
I can hear the outrage now, sure you have strong values and maybe you think that you design only things that make you happy but if you always design for yourself and not the client then my friend, you’re an artist, not a designer.
If you’re always battling your client you’ll ultimately compromise your sanity as well as your enjoyment in the job. So next you get some feedback or your design isn’t exactly how you expect it to be, question the client, consider their rationale behind the decision and ask yourself — is this battle really worth it? Am I the one being difficult? Or would it be best to break up with the client?
I can guarantee by using empathy towards your client you’ll get a better understanding of their perspective but you’ll also feel far calmer about the situation too.
Do you think designers care too much? Or should clients listen to designer more? Get in touch and let me know in the comments! Or you can find me on Twitter as @lizhamburger