Presenting Design

by July 13, 2004

Good design is problem solving and should always be presented as such. Whenever a designer (be it an interaction designer, an information designer, or a visual designer) presents a client with too many options they risk undermining their value and opening themselves up to “design by committee”.

The message is “I don’t know enough about your users or goals so you pick what works best.” Now the design is in a non-designer’s hands (who may very well be wondering why he hired a designer in the first place). There’s also a very high probability that upon seeing multiple design options, a client will ask for some of each one resulting in a “Frankenstein design” (not this one).

When too many interface designers come to clients without a firm commitment to a solution the design profession may suffer. This is especially true with relatively “new” forms of design such as interaction and interface design. A perception can gradually form about the skills that constitute effective interface design. This type of stigma already exists for visual designers who are routinely called upon just to “make things pretty”. As a result, every interface designer should focus on building a reputation as a problem solver and communicating that through the language of design and business. The design medium will change, the need to solve problems will not.

A worthwhile exercise is to invert Daniel Will-Harris’ How to (and not to) Work with a Designer in order to enable clients to gain the full benefits of design for their business. Your client will thank you and your profession will too.