In my past experiences as a designer and creative director, I often found that the process was ripe for letting one’s ego get in the way of creating the best concept possible. Critiques would get cutthroat, with each contributor selling why their solution was better than the others. In many cases, the loudest presenter could sway the client to choose their design, even if it wasn’t the best choice for the end user.
Now that I manage the Mad*Pow Visual Design Team
, I’ve been able to remove this negative attribute from the design process completely. The design team has learned to check their egos at the door, knowing that they’re contributing to the greater good of any given project. It’s this understanding that empowers the team to act collaboratively and come to the best solution possible; even if it means that one’s approach isn’t chosen.
There are many attributes that an egoless designer must possess, the most important being an understanding of where their contribution lies within the overall project. Knowing that you’re a part of a greater whole makes the adoption of this style more appealing, and critiques (we call them internal reviews) become true collaborative sessions.
Desirability and usability testing plays heavily into this approach. If a designer’s concept doesn’t test well for whatever reason, no offense is taken. Instead, a better design solution evolves to meet the end user’s needs, which is the ultimate goal.
So, how do you instill this sense of being a true
contributor as opposed to the ‘winning’ designer?
1. Provide clear intentions up front
The design team should know that their contributions are tested against a defined set of attributes that may or may not impact the end design.
2. Clear the design mind
Encourage your design team to ‘forget’ what they know, and approach the challenge at hand from the end user’s perspective. Ensure that they know what primary business and user goals are, and place them directly in the shoes of the person trying to complete the action. Reviewing the personas, task flows and business drivers helps accomplish this goal.
3. Instill a sense of positive collaboration
We’re all working for the same end result, so flexibility within the design process is critical to achieving the best possible solution – even if it means compromise and iteration within the design process.
4. Provide metrics of success after the fact
Let your design team know that they make a difference in people’s lives by designing FOR them. The end result may not be the comp they want in their portfolio, but the results of their contributions will mean more when paired with positive metrics.
Having an environment based upon these basic principles allows us to create visual solutions that have positive and measurable impacts for our users. At the end of the day, that is what makes us VERY happy.