I think everyone who ever worked on visual projects - designer, product manager or developer - knows this problem: we try to make decisions and keep talking about design and visuals together. We think that everyone has the same image in their head. But actually it turns out that we don't.
This discrepancy is surely not the designer’s fault. It’s the fault of our communication. Luckily at UX studio, we discovered some really great methods to find answers for visual questions together.
How to talk about design?
Talking about colors or fonts is like talking about a song or a dance move. Maybe you can describe it with words, but you can’t share the full experience.
Talking about design ideas, sharing creative thoughts and ideating together shouldn’t be stressful. It should be fun, and it should happen as often as possible! Have you never shared your vision or idea with your team before? Talk about it today for the first time!
We’re all highly visual creatures, and everyone has visual images on their minds — so, everyone has a right to speak about them. It shouldn’t always be only your designer talking. Let’s start sharing!
But first, you really have to know who are you working for: try to gather as many information as you can about your product’s brand. This can be difficult sometimes. Especially when you don’t really have a precisely elaborated brand identity yet.
Define a brand persona
To get more insights about the brand, you can imagine a “brand persona” with your product and marketing team together. Find out what they think: if the brand is a person, what type of personality would he/she have? Define together this person’s look, age, gender, clothes, job, hobbies. Imagine what would this person say to you in a party?
I created this free brand persona template for my latest project to create our brand persona and it helped me a lot. Feel free to download it now!
Collect design materials
Always use your eyes before talking about design. Gather some different UI examples and as you start talking about different styles, show these visual materials to the others.
If the product needs to have a ‘casual style’ show screenshots from existing ‘casual styled’ products and use them as a point of reference. In this way, everyone can know what you really mean about ‘casual style’.
Ask for feelings when talking about design
When talking about a design, try to focus more on the impact rather than ‘styles’ or abstract attributes. A good method is for that, to think with your team together about the feelings you want to rise in the user.
Do we want to make them happy? Or feeling effective? What would our ideal interface ‘say’ to them? In what manner?
Draw! (even if you can’t)
Once, I worked with a product owner who always started the project kickoffs with a difficult, almost totally incomprehensible presentation of the project. After a few awkward minutes, he usually burst out: “Oh, sh*t! I have to draw.”
Then, he started to draw ugly circles and rectangles on the whiteboard with very shaky arrows and slightly alarming handwriting. But after he finished it, we understood almost everything about the design and the task.
So, don’t be shy to use the good old solution: paper and a pencil. Even if you can’t draw. The point is to understand each other.
Create something together
Sometimes even the main decision makers has different visual images in their head about the same product. We have to help them to realize and solve these contradictions.
You can collect materials or create moodboards with your decision makers together. So you can actually see, what ideas they have in their mind and they can also compare each other’s concepts. You can do this online, using Pinterest or offline during a design workshop.
Bring some images, colors palettes, papers, magazines, printed fonts to the meeting and ask the others to create a moodboard for the product. You can also tell them to choose only a specific number of images/colors. In this way they have to prioritize, make decisions together, so you can realize if there is a disagreement in something.
After I gathered all the insight I needed, I like to create some quick moodboards first. Ask your designer to create something like this before making screens or final, elaborated designs!
This gives a great opportunity to show the possible style directions, but the team still don’t need to invest too much time into creation, so you can make faster decisions.
We also used to do the 5-second test with these moodboards, to know how our users might feel about the designs.
It’s your turn
So these are our main methods to make faster decisions about design. We can’t really just talk about design and visuals until we haven’t looked at it.
And what about you? Do you have any other methods to understand your teams/users visual ideas?
If you are also interested in Product Design processes, I recommend you to check our free e-book, the Product Manager’s Guide to UX Design.
And there is an additional reading for you! Check out our Product Design book too! We ship it worldwide – for free.