Strong Beliefs, Loosely Held

One of my favourite quotes is ‘Strong beliefs, loosely held’ and as a designer I think this is really important.

I have always had strong opinions and beliefs, but I have not always voiced them. I am not very good at debate and do not like to upset people. Unless it was illegal or going to hurt someone I would probably go with the flow.

But as a designer I cannot keep quiet anymore.

Firstly, as the designer of a solution I might have been working on for weeks or months, I know the intricasies that a stakeholder who has only seen what I have presented in the last 20 minutes, has missed. I have done the research and the testing and I have designed it in a particular way because of what I have learnt, so it is my job to make sure I communicate this as fully as I can.

Secondly someone has to stand up for the user and as a user experience designer that is also my job. If I think the design decision being made is going to affect the users in a negative way then I have to say something.

But at the same time I know that I do not know everything, and will not have thought of everything, which is why I am happy to share my work early and often allowing the team and stakeholders the opportunity to discuss designs and decisions with me.

These discussions are so important for making sure my designs are the very best they can be.

I am not talking about design by committee, where you are likely to end up with a mediocre design full of compromise, but discussion and feedback to make sure you have covered everything from a business and customer perspective.

I find this easiest to do when I remind myself that my designs are not me and when people give me feedback, whether negative or positive, it is not about me but the design. And if the design has been fed into by the whole team it makes this even easier.

Design is a team sport, forget this at your peril.