Designer Life #7: Why Designers in a Project Based Company Fail 💻📋💼
Designer life is a collection of learnings and stories based on real-life experiences of product designers. What is written may or may not resonate with you. Please take it with a grain of salt 🧂👌
IT Consultants, Digital Agency, or whatever it is generally called, are often closely related to work that is piling up, unstructured, have narrow deadlines, to overtime which is quite torturous. But it’s actually not that bad indeed. Working for more than 5 years in the IT Consultant environment gives me a lot of important learning for my career.
Actually, if we learn about various modern methodologies of software development, starting from Waterfall, Agile to Scrum Practice. Of course, these things can actually be improved. Although not as perfect as we expected, it will be very helpful. But, sometimes consistency is always a common problem.
“It takes both sides to build a bridge” — Fredrik Nael
And based on my experience, there are some common mistakes in Project Based Company that we can actually improve, including:
1. Client problems and objectives are rarely defined
Very often, when we start a new project, the Project Manager is too focused on the technical aspects that the developer will do including the technical infrastructure. They feel confident that functional needs can be overcome by the Development Pattern Library owned by their development team. But they forget, actually what does this client need? A complicated panel? or just a few simple data views that help them do their jobs effectively? Often in the future, problems that are not well defined can end up being built on products that are not needed, or even over-functional (too damn powerful).
But the Designer can be involved in aligning between the Development Team and the Client by doing a Simple Co-Creation Workshop. Or, if time is not possible, a simple research can be done intensely by the Designer and Client. So we still able to play the Consultant Role to the Client.
2. No time allocated for any Research Activity
As explained in the previous point, this happens because we missed the research process at the beginning of the project with the client. They believed their experiences that have faced thousands of conditions and similar cases each year, will be more helpful than spending time doing research. But unfortunately, there is no data they get to find out whether the product they made previously worked or not, there is absolutely nothing that can be proven.
This is why research really needs to be done because, in the project, we face a lot of needs that are completely different from each other. The Designer should able to doing small research independently, starts from the business goals, clients problem, and understanding the client expectation, those will help you to design better product for them, rather than having no data to collect to start the design process.
3. Design treated as an End Product Deliverables
The previous thing could happen because the understanding of the company about design was still not mature enough. Perhaps because of the stereotypes of design that are closely related to visuals, making companies limit the role of design only in a narrow scope, limited to work results. Even though in design planning, the design aspect is not just visual and aesthetic. The design team must have an important role in project planning, where the Project Manager must be able to discuss more about the product being worked on, this will help minimize the explosion risk of design revisions.
Also, the designer must have more desire to learn new things, the designer have to involve himself further in the project, including internal discussions with the Development Team and Project Managers about the Design process. It could help you aligned the understanding of each team member about the importance of the design process you will do.
4. A designer rarely involved in Client meetings
Some of my fellow designer colleagues had complained, endless design revisions, unclear product directions, and changing Project Manager instructions. Of course, this is quite disturbing the designer mentality at work. However, I was told that I had been investigated, apparently, it was because he himself continued to avoid meetings with clients, because he thought that this could be overcome by a Project Manager.
A misguided understanding of meeting with clients is something that is quite dangerous if left unchecked. If the designer does not want to get involved in important discussions, imagine how far he got lost. Meetings, discussions, and alignments with clients are very important to listen and process the empathy for what the client faces directly. Like it or not, a designer must have the desire to get involved in meeting with the clients, or they will get lost in a long process of revision. That’s your choice, right?
5. No time for any Design Validation
Yes, I think this is the most important part that will determine the usefulness of the product to be built before entering the development phase. Just imagine, when we are confident in what we are going to do, that built with difficulty, but apparently, it’s not what the user needs. Imagine how long the loss of time is wasted in carrying out a late iteration of the product. The validation process will help us reduce the failure time before finally the products we build can fit according to the real needs.
In my opinion, this validation process has been overlooked because it was never listed on the project timeline. But there is no harm in discussing with the Project manager about how important we are to validate. For example, explain the team about Usability Testing before the development process, can help the development team to not waste their time for a long iteration process and annoying client request. Because we get insight from the users already about the product.
“The designer does not begin with some preconceived idea. Rather, the idea is the result of careful study and observation, and the design a product of that idea” — Paul Rand
Well, What I say might not always happen. It could be that there is a company that has a better workflow or even have no workflow at all. For me it’s very relative, the most important point is, I’m not here to judge anyone. Everyone in the company must develop and improve to be better. I mean, literally everyone 😁 (including me also, of course)
Don’t agree with me? calm down, I like to discuss, let’s share your thoughts in the comments field!
Have a nice day!