Communication in the Product Design Process
From an idea to the finalization, the product design process takes a few steps. Guaranteed to guide you through them towards the success, the most important factor is excellent communication. The steps in finalizing the product are: analyzing your business to suit the design, creating prototypes for you, letting you view them and have an effect on them to construct the product completely fitting for you, developing it and launching. Design is created after the client have expressed their vision. Wheter or not it comes true depends on how well your exchange of informations went. How to make sure it goes well? Let’s dive into it!
Making a Connection
In order to understand your needs, the designer must get the most out of you. How to help him with that? It makes a great difference if you will follow these rules in the meetings:
- Make Eye Contact
This will make both sides feel like they can trust each other and lead them to be more open about their concept, therefore help ensure they’re on the same page when it comes to the project!
- Get Comfortable
Some people prefere to hold conversations in public and others are fond of more private spaces. Make sure to pick an appropriate time and place for discussing the design. Meeting in person can help you see what each of you have in mind in terms of the design.
- Remember to Have Open Body Language
Do not cross your arms, have a straight and relaxed posture, appear excited, ready to speak and listen. Body language works on our minds more than we think. It can help the information to flow better. In case you are talking about the product design over the phone – you can make your voice sound energetic and reassuring the designer that you are listening to them by simple sounds like ‘’mmm” or ‘’huh’’. You can as well paraphrase what they are saying to make them sure you understood.
- Make Small Talk
Getting to know a little bit more about people you work with will help integrating you and have your conversations go smoother, with both sides more involved. This is really important, especially during long-term projects.
The Way the Designer Works
Another helpful thing to do is to learn about the personal product design process that your designer follows. Paul Ralph explained two basic patterns that designers follow in his article:
- „Reason-centric perspective”
That’s when what’s there to achieve is stated at the beginning and must be thoroughly followed to complete the project.
- „Action-centric perspective”
That approach mixes realizing what we want to achieve while already taking action.
A lot of the time, designers follow the second approach. What this means to you is that both you and the designer might find new goals as well as problems along the way. The good side is that it might make processing the project more thoughtful, observing it as it comes to life. When you understand how the production happens, you trust your designer more and become less afraid of a potential failure. Finding out how the designer stresses the matter, takes us to another point.
As you might have learned in school, no question is a dumb question. Producing your concept as best as the designer can, requires them to know your fears, doubts and expecations. The more open about the abstract you are, the better they realize it. Maybe there is something you would like to understand about the product design process. Ask away. The designer will be happy to share their knowledge with you to make your cooperation better. You have the same impact on the project and should be equally involved. Make sure the designer keeps you updated on the project – that way you can avoid conflicts about the arising vision.
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Be Prepared for the Discussion
Realize how far is your idea planned and what challenges does it bring. Communicate them to your designer. Prepare a set of questions that will give answers to your concerns. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer of your future product. What do you want him to see looking at it? What kind of feeling do you want it to arouse? What strong points will be bringing consumer’s attention and decide for them to buy it or use it? Remember to listen to what the person has to say and politely debate your opinions. You might have to be ready to compromise. If you think you are right, always speak your arguments to make the statement strong. It will show how important the project is to you. Know the strong and weak points of your concept. Showing how important the project is to you, engages the designer in it and makes it more than just another job to do. Emotional commitment creates a bond between you and the person, drawing them in to make them do all they can to help you.
As huge role as emotions play in conversations, it is important to keep them healthy and reasonable. There are two sides to the conversation. First, you – someone who is expecting the final product to present your vision perfectly, hopefuly as fast and problemfree as it can. Second – the designer, who is hoping to be proud of their final product and to get your approval on it. Both sides are stressed. Is the designer able to do that? How long will it take? Is the costumer willing to compromise? How to cooperate and negogiate to prepare it down to the last detail? It is crucial to maintain yourself and accept that the product design process will take time. But it’s the time worth the wait to meet your expectations. How they will be met, relies on communication between the two of you.
Visual and Verbal Strategy
To get the point across, people typically communicate through images and words. Anthony Williams and Robert Cowdroy tested main elements of that in their study.
- Technical Language
Using technical terms helps the designer, that way the person knows exactly what you mean.
To explain your idea you can choose to affect person’s imagination by comparing your idea to another famous one. It is a great way to navigate the designer in which direction you would like to go.
Showing your idea by movement can apply to shapes, sizes, functions and ratio of one element to the other.
- Drawings and Existing Graphics
If you cannot reach consensus on what you want the product to be like, you can illustrate it by sketching it or showing the designer an already exsisting design. You can also create a so called „mood board”, which is a presentation of colours, images and other inspirations that represent your vision.
Inform the Designer What the Product is for
Best product design process is followed by having as much information as possibile. Share whatever you can about your business, who is it for and why are you doing it, how do you want to operate it. That way the designer will know what will and will not work for the product. Infrom the designer about the target audience, they will understand where you are coming from and it will make the approach way clear to them. Showing and justifying to the designer your journey of how the concept was created in your mind – with as much details as possible, raises your chances of the designer to realize it perfectly.
You think the design is ok, but you would like it a bit better? Say it. Do not hold back on communicating what you like and do not like about the design. The person designing your product needs to know what they can improve on. The more you say, the closer you are to the desired result. Same with describing your abstract, you might have seen the design that you absolutely do not want. Show it to designer, so they know what to avoid.
Keep in Touch with Your Designer
In today’s world with all the technology, you don’t have to meet eye-to-eye with your designer. Set up ways to communicate with them while the project is being processed. You can exchange emails, texts, calls, videoconferences on Skype for example. At INVO we like to use Slack as well as emails and traditional phone calls. This will make it easier for you to give feedback. Make sure you are informed about changes made in your project. Give as many opinions as you can. Carefully analize why certain options are being chosen. The more attention you will pay to the project, the better it will turn out.
Brainstorm with Your Designer
Even if you have your idea all planned out, it is smart to take advantage of designer’s knowledge. They might point out weak points of your project, and bring new solutions to it. Remeber to listen to your designer and reflect on what they say. Experienced designers usually know what sort of design will bring you expected business results. Talking your idea through thoroughly with the designer will definitely benefit you. Always know why you are deciding on a certain thing the way you do.
Organize Your Speech
Remember, to be heard, you need to speak in a certain manner. One of the useful tips is to section out the things that you want to say. It is very effective to make pauses between sections, so that the person you are speaking to has time to process information in their head and be able to ask you questions, leading to an agreement on both sides. Do not rush the information. It may get misplaced. Take your time to explain your ideas. Giving yourself and the designer proper amount of time will improve your way of communicating. You both will be paying more attention, causing better thought processes.
Now you know ways to help the designer make your vision come true. A key ingredient to make the product desing process go smoothly and get on that finish line – clear communication. Without it the product will not come out the way you want it. It is very important to realize that whatever you communicate, the designer will try to use to create your product. Keep in mind at all times, that the more you say, the better. With a lot of information having to be conveyed, you must pass it in a valid way, being sure the designer knows what it is that you want. Communication is an art. Be patient and try to keep your designer on the same page as you!