Becoming a better design communicator

Nov 25, 2020

Almost a decade ago, when I was just starting my career as a designer, I thought that good design is everything that looks cool.

As I became more experienced, I learned that design is more than that. First of all, the design is how it works.

But my biggest insight, that happened not that long ago (I wish someone told me that earlier) was that making cool and functional things is still just a part of the process called design.

I'm sure there are even more pieces to this puzzle, but currently, I'm thinking of 3 critical parts:

  • Doing cool designs
  • Doing cool designs that work well
  • Being able to communicate why designs are cool and work well

Over decades, designers were forced to become multifaceted - besides design aesthetics alone, these days, you are expected to also have a good knowledge of strategy, marketing, and coding.

But as mentioned above, those are still parts of something bigger and I strongly believe that there is one skill that (on my subjective opinion) can control them all: good design communication.⁣

Design communication (do not misunderstand with Communication Design) is a way to present design ideas and solutions in a manner easily consumable by stakeholders and users of the designs.

Designer's ability to communicate their design decisions is equally important as their design skills.

Young designers and those who are building their design careers usually underestimate the value of design communication. I had the same way of thinking - that by doing good design I will be known and famous.

But that's not what happened and I'm grateful for being able to realize this sooner than later.

Why Become a Better Design Communicator?⁣

Becoming a good design communicator can help you build a successful career or a creative business. It also helps you focus on the ability to create good designs, consistently.

As a result, you'll have more clarity about the things you are doing and will be able to share your knowledge with others.

To get support from the team.

It’s crucial if you want to see your ideas taken forward. To do so you should build trust with stakeholders and people using the product.

You can only do that by effectively communicating that you know the problem that you're solving for and your solution works for this type of problem.

⁣To Convey Design Decisions to a Non-Designer.

The industry is full of people with different job titles and levels of design understanding. ⁣

Clear and to the point communication allows anyone - even your granny - to get an understanding of the decisions you've made and why they work.

⁣To Talk Business.

If we want the design to remain and grow at the head of the table, we need to be able to talk business.⁣

The ability to translate design ideas and solutions into business opportunities will create tremendous success for you and your designs.

Strategies for Better design Communication⁣

One blog post is not enough to share all the strategies on design communication, but the following three points should be good to start with.

Speak Effectively During the Design Process: Be Heard and Understood.

For remote workers giving presentations without seeing the audience can be difficult; being unable to see people's reactions makes it hard to figure out what people are thinking. ⁣

Speaking confidently and supporting your conversation with body language will help you establish trust in people's heads and make them like your ideas.

⁣Set Expectations and Have Regular Reviews.

A client needs to know what to expect from working with you, and it’s a good idea to define the expectations before you start working with them. ⁣

Communicate the process that you have established for yourself and be clear on deliverables at the end of each stage.

⁣Going from Good to Great.

The difference between a good designer and a great designer is having the ability to solve problems as well as being able to articulate how their design is solving those problems.

I have seen (and was in the same place) designers who create tremendous solutions for the various problems, but because of their inability to communicate why those solutions work - the world never saw their designs.


Closing notes

Good design always feels like a well-written book: you start with the beginning (understanding the problem) and move through the middle (ideating and testing) towards the end (presenting the solution).

When you consider how you communicate your design from the very beginning of the process you'll take an advantage of telling a story around the solution. And since people love stories, you'll have more chances for your design solution to be accepted.

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in this Twitter thread.