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.