Did you ever come across complaints about Graphic Designers? I did. I heard that it’s hard to communicate with them. That once you tell them what you need they disappear for weeks.
I design User Experience (UX) and Information Architecture (AI) and I’ve never had problems working together with our clients. I also work with Graphic Designers and I experienced the what-the-hell-is-he-doing problem myself. I want to share my way of coping with clients and I hope it'll improve your cooperation!
The Graphic Design Way
A Designer collects ideas from the Client, finds out what he needs and then … he sits in his dark mistic kingdom (or super white designy openspace) and works on the project. A week, two or three pass by. During that time Client had no idea what the Designer was doing. Finally he presents his work to the Client and… his world falls apart. Client is not satisfied, it’s not what he imagined. Now the Designer is offended and I believe the Client isn't super happy that he’ll see second version in another 2-3 weeks...
The UX Way
At the beginning everything is the same - I meet with a client, collect ideas and needs. But then… it usually takes me 2-3 days to prepare first draft version of lo-fi mockup. After doing the draft I contact the Client and we work on it TOGETHER.
I organized a couple of 3 hour sessions with one of our clients, during which polish representatives, their superiors from abroad and me held video calls. We worked on the prototype LIVE, moving boxes, buttons, reorganizing app’s interface so that all necessary elements were in the right places. If there was something I had to rethink harder (e.g. navigation) we just wrote that down and I worked on it after the meeting.
Many of our clients have never met me in person as they are from Singapore, Thailand, United States and Norway. We work remotely all the time and it requires good communication skills and tools. This is why I use UXPin to prepare prototypes and exchange comments. There’s this great collaboration mode which allows you to write comments and pin them to specific interface element. This way we don’t have to exchange loads of e-mails where we try to understand which comment corresponds to which element. Much simple. Many clear.
Combining those two approaches - working LIVE with the Client and giving him a tool to easily comment my design creates a win-win situation. Client is IN the process so he knows what is happening and feels that he has control over the project. On the other hand I get quick feedback and don’t waste time going down the wrong design road.
What type of approach do you prefer? :)