May 24th 2020
I have worked with some great designers, some of them brilliant, but they saw other designers either promoted ahead of them or given the better brief. Often, they wouldn't understand why they were being overlooked.
One of the main reasons that they were overlooked would be their inability to interact and speak to people. A lot of designers I have worked with have been brilliant on the computer and delivered great results, but when it came to speaking to the client/senior staff member who doesn't have a design background, and explaining your idea, they struggled.
Communication is key in every aspect of the work place, but as a designer I think it is even more important. In fact, I believe its key to having a successful career in design.
I have received promotions where, if you base it on talent alone, should have gone to the other guy, but my real talent came from being able to talk about design and explain clearly why I did what I did. How many times do you deal with clients that have no creative bone in their body? In most cases, its no use trying to blow them away with talk of Gaussian Blurs in Photoshop or Text Wraps in Indesign. They won't understand...or quite frankly care.
So how do you handle such situations? Again its all to do with communication. In your head you would have rationalised the idea, perhaps drawn out some sketches. Draw on those experiences, how did yourationalise and get to the idea that became your final design?
I know it may seem patronising, but imagine your client doesn't know anything about design. Speak to them as if this whole world is new to them. Break it down for them, make sure they're as comfortable with your idea as you are. You'll be amazed at how clearly you'll describe your designs and how precise you become in the way you communicate.
I had an example the other week.
I was dealing with a client that was obviously becoming quite stressed as the project was starting to draw to a close, they were not design savvy either. Due to the intricate and heavy design nature of the document we were producing, tempers were getting frayed as we reached the deadline. I could quite easily have lost my temper and asked them to just let me get on with my job. However, I know from experience that losing your temper gets you nowhere. So, at my suggestion, we took a quick break, sat down together and talked through exactly what needed to be done. I explained how long each design was going to take and why it would take that long. I didn't go into great detail, just enough so they had a quick overview of the job i was doing.
From this we worked out an effective plan to get the project out on time and to professional standard. Without that break, the project could quite easily have fallen apart and all the hard work we did at the start would have been pointless.
Everybody communicates in different ways, and with certain clients you will have to adapt the way you speak with them. But find a way that works for you that allows you to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. You'll be amazed how quickly this will give you confidence and recognition in the workplace.
Communication is another subject i'll touch on again, but next time i'll talk about how you can communicate effectively with other members of your team or members you manage.