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How to share your work effectively

Sharing your work can be a joyful and impactful experience

UX/UI Design
3 minute read 

A few years ago, in my first role as a designer, I ended up in a shouting exchange with senior stakeholders at a design review. This might seem very unusual but, it was the climax of a dysfunctional review process which frequently ended with people crying or at the pub. I went to my UX manager and told him I couldn't keep working like that. He said “Chimmy you’re a UX designer. What’s wrong with the process of showing your design? And how can you make it better?” I’m going to share some of the things I learnt from that review and over the last few years so that you can avoid crying, becoming an alcoholic or shouting at your stakeholders.

Problems you might encounter sharing your work

  • People may not understand design - A lot of people think design is about making things pretty. They might be overly focused on colours and styles when you want them to focus on other things.
  • People may not care about design - You might find that you care about user needs, layout and visual hierarchy, accessibility, typography etc. and other people either can’t or don’t care about those things.
  • People’s expectations for what you’re sharing may not be in line with yours - if you aren’t explicit about why you’re showing your designs, people might expect to approve/contribute to the design or want overt influence on the process or outcomes.
  • People may only see a snapshot in time - Design usually involves a process. You explore different directions, test out your ideas and show people the outcome of a series of decisions that you have made. When people can only see that output and not all of the input, they might want to go over options that you already discarded.
  • People may not understand what feedback you’re looking for - There are different kinds of feedback a designer might need. Confirmation that the problem space is well understood or that the solution directions are aligned with expectations, an assessment of the feasibility (tech, business or something else) of a concept, or input on the journey or style. If people don’t understand what kind of feedback to give, the process might be frustrating for you and them.

Questions to answer before you share your work

  • Why are you doing this work?
  • Who are you sharing this work with?
  • Where are you in your process?
  • Why are you sharing the work now?

How to share your work

Choose a format that works for multiple knowledge-sharing styles

People receive information in different ways. My learning styles are visual and kinaesthetic (meaning I prefer learning by doing) so I struggle when people communicate with me verbally. When I present my work, I do it in multiple ways; I share a Figma file so they can comment on the flows/screens or walkthrough prototypes and I also talk to people and present using visual aids.


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Set expectations around what people are about to experience

You need to tell people what you want out of the session and check in with them about what they might need from you. Are you sharing only some information to keep them informed of progress? Will you be expecting some participation? Is there historical information they need to be aware of and will you be sharing that with them? Thinking about these things helps you and your audience know what to expect.

Share the why

What part of your process are you showing? Make sure that you remind people of:

  • The business, customer and/or technical problem that instigated the work
  • Metrics / other measures of success; these should be in line with things they already care about e.g. I might show my work to a product manager framed around business and user benefits and expected outcomes. Or I might show it to engineers in terms of effort vs impact.
  • What decisions were previously made (if any)
  • Options that have been considered and discarded

Not all of these will apply. It depends on how far you are into your process and how recently you shared.

If you’re looking for feedback, be clear about what kind of feedback you require

You might need to focus on different things depending on how far along you are in your process;

  • Concepts/problem space - Perhaps you need input or alignment on what user problem you're solving and how the team might want to tackle it. The focus here should be on agreeing on what success looks like.
  • Lo-fidelity wireframes - Perhaps you need input on the viability of your options (technically or for the business). The focus here should be on the flow and content. The suitability of design here should reflect the success metrics that have already been agreed upon.
  • Hi-fidelity wireframes/mockups - Perhaps you need confirmation and alignment that the proposed solution is the right one. People can speak more about the details of the UI controls, colours, layout etc

Capture the next steps

What are you going to do with the information you gathered after you show your work?

  • Will you be actioning suggestions?
  • Are you going to iterate or improve?
  • Do you have a decision that needs to be documented?
  • Will there be further opportunities for a follow-up?

Clarity around this closes the communication loop and should be in line with the expectations that you set at the start of the session.

Circling back

A few weeks after my shouting match with stakeholders, they’d frequently swing by my desk to chat about the progress of my work. We had increasingly productive design review sessions and I’ve not had such a stressful meeting in the eight years since.

If you incorporate some of these tips, you could turn sharing your work into a more joyful and impactful experience too.