I used to think that design was about artistry. But now, I think design is about the blending of problem solving with the emotional aspect of creativity.. It’s about being able to prove the difference you will make. Design should be focused on the improvements you can achieve, and how this will impact on people’s bottom line.
Why stakeholders matter
The single most important feature in any customer-facing design project? We think it’s buy-in; specifically buy-in from stakeholders.
Whatever the project, you won’t achieve beautiful or logical results without focused stakeholder engagement from the beginning. Depending on the client, this might be a simple process, or it might be very challenging. It’s our job as designers, as creative-thinkers, to educate the client and bring them on the journey with us.
Typically we see clients asking for:
- More customers
- Quicker conversions
- Retained customers
- More up-sell
Everything to do with design and UX (because they’re intrinsically linked) is about creating less friction with the user when they have a transaction with a brand. Design serves a unique purpose, and this purpose should always translate into return and engagement for the brand.
We worked with a start-up who needed to attract investors. They were building an app that enabled people to offset their carbon footprint. Their initial coin offering to attract investors needed screenshots, showcasing the customer experience design and the possibilities shown for the brand and product.. The purpose of this design was to bring to life the product and its unique capabilities.
But, the client wanted the project done quickly and without too much focus on detail. We had to work closely with them to argue the opposite, to ensure the capabilities of the app were shown. In the end, our designs reflected the unique way that users could interact with the app and experience the services and features. The client were delighted, they saw the difference the design made. Their presentation looked incredible, and they won the funding.
Every detail counts
It’s quite often the case that brands want design done to a tight deadline. But within this lies a misunderstanding about the process of design. If you approach design holistically, you must understand your customers and represent your brand truly. This creates an engaging and rewarding customer experience.
At Aqueduct, we feel that every detail matters. Design is about what the user will feel. Colours, patterns, contrasts; these all affects the user. Does it look premium? Does it look cheap? Does it reflect our values? Does it achieve success for the business and the customer?
The design must reflect the experience and needs of the user, in relation to the brand. As with our work for Team GB, design must be on-cue with a brand’s values. Are they non-profit? Premium? A charity? A sports club? Are they gritty? Are they exclusive?
Shape projects with stakeholders
Design is shaped by the identity and needs of the stakeholder, in conjunction with the user. The right information shapes excellent design. This is why the very best information, to link up the brand and the user, always comes from asking stakeholders the right questions.
But what questions should you be asking? Here’s a few suggestions:
- What is your business goal?
- What is the project objective?
- Who are you, as a brand?
- What are your values?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- Who are your customers?
- Who do your customers think you are?
- What other brands would you position yourself against? Why?
- Is there a discrepancy between where you are and where your customers think you are?
We use these questions to define a shared brief. Writing briefs with the client is a powerful way to start a design project. You can play back ideas, with the stakeholder fully aware of what’s needed. This agreement at the beginning means that further down the line, when personal preferences get in the way, you all have something to collectively refer back to. This process enables design to stay focused on the needs and motivations of the customer, not the preference of the client.
Design can be very subjective, and we understand this. As we say in UX, ‘know the user, and know that you’re not the user.’ For design, this is true. Know that you’re not the customer. If you’re interested in UX, and creating brand loyalty through seamless, frictionless ideas, then read more about that here.