5 Pains of Design Projects & How to Ease Them

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Andrew Stelya

    16 Mar 2017 - 5 min read

     According to the French poet, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “One knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” We know working with creatives on design projects can be a little tricky. We surveyed almost 100 executives and found their 5 most common problems when working on design projects and designers… We’ve prepared some short pieces of advice to give you some extra insight on what’s wrong and how to fix it.

    Naturally, many of these issues are not limited to designers. Still, these five issues tend to be most noticeable where design is concerned. But you’ve learned some of these the hard way, haven’t you?

    1. Too much perfectionism

    You know, that one thing that might result in something great, but at the cost of ruined deadlines. Too much perfectionism works both ways.

    Solution: The desire to create something perfect instead of just meeting the requirements is an inherent goal, an ideal of every project. It is an ideal shared by designers and project owners alike, it’s a two-way street. The thing is that perfection often takes more time than the project’s schedule permits. In fact, it’s not the perfectionism ruining the schedule, but a breakdown in communications and process.

    Take the time to be engaged with your project and to explain in as much detail exactly what you want to see. Listen to what your designers have to say, as well. Design is a puzzle that requires all of its parts to fit just right. The process of achieving that, as our team uses, starts with a rough draft, adds wireframes, and then more fidelity (or adherence to details) and color.

    Being engaged with and communicating your likes and dislikes throughout this process is critical. Your involvement enables professional designers to nail it in 2-3 iterations with a design that’s on schedule and that meets or exceeds your expectations. Rushing it or skipping it will lead to misunderstandings and errors that can snowball into very costly mistakes, failed projects and conflicts.

    Perfection is an ideal, by the time one arrives at what they thought might have been a perfect result, the standard for perfection will have changed. This is recognized in the Minimum Viable Product approach – capturing maximum customer feedback so that the next iteration will be much closer to that ideal. Believe us on this – the time you invest into design can return tenfold, even on your ROI.

    2. Designer mismatch

    The designer’s skillset don’t match your needs.

    Solution: You have many options when it comes to choosing a designer – but knowing what kind of designer you need is critical. It is on you to know what skill sets are needed for your project. Due diligence on your part can avoid this situation from the start. You might review our tips on how to find the perfect developer for your project.

    But, if your project is already underway, we wouldn’t say you have to search for another guy/team right away, but taking stock of your options would definitely be a smart move on your part. Seeking freelancers can be a tough task in crowded marketplaces like Upwork, but still a rewarding one. But, if you really need a team of designers to create a unique and consistent design, no freelancers scattered around the globe can perform or deliver like a professionally picked and dedicated design team.

    A dedicated design team is a great way to ensure your design really accomplishes your business goals. A professional team can cover the entire process from busines analysis, storyboarding to UI/UX design and testing. Ever heard of Agile and Scrum? Works great for design projects. If you’re concerned with how the methodology works, you should check if Scrum fits into your practices. Why should you bother learning something that arcane? Because well-designed and well-developed software matters.

    3. Bad designer-developer interaction

    Solving the design part of the equation only takes you half-way. Many issues reside at the intersection of where design meets development. This is particularly true when you have two separate teams, one for design and one for development – brought on at different times. Communication can get messy or the process may be constantly disrupted from both sides.

    Solution: In the end, it all comes down to good communication. Development and design can work together without any hiccups, they just have to see the content and context of their work and how it differs. Meaning that designers have to understand the developers and vice versa. Good project supervision is equally important.

    Good UI/UX is born when all parties put effort into it. Don’t isolate development and design. The more people you have in the process the better the end result will be. Ideally, you should have both parties take part in the discussions throughout the entire process. The current best practice is to agree on a regular time every day, just mind that everyone’s time is limited, including yours, of course. Some useful tools to help keep the process clean include Avocode, Zeppelin, and Invision.

    4. Too much/no documentation

    Some insist on carefully documenting virtually everything, others prefer Agile methodologies, and having as little documentation as possible.

    Solution: Feel free to ask what your team thinks. Ultimately, though, the best approach for your project is really up to you to decide. The only advice that really makes sense here is for any documentation to be as visual as possible. It only takes users three clicks/taps to love or hate you – so, there’s no room for bad design decisions here. Mockups, wireframes, prototypes, all the way from the high-level to micro UX. Even a vastly simplified visualization can and should have aesthetic appeal. While effectively explaining design in natural language is extremely challenging, wireframes, mockups, and prototypes are the keys to successful development. Taking the time to wireframe out the flow is just a small upfront investment.

    Present the results/feedback yourself. Don’t rely on e-mail or Skype exchanges. That leads nowhere. Feedback is best collected from face to face discussions, it is more effective for all parties. The secret to successful design projects is in mediating parties via translating thoughts and ideas. Where possible, it’s best to work side by side, together. There’s likely no better way to go about visual QA for refining the minor details that go into a truly great UI and UX.

    5. All I got was a .psd!

    Not quite what you expected? Then something went wrong with defining the deliverables.

    Solution:  In all probability, the designer is giving you exactly what you asked for.  There are some “budget” freelancer sites (fiverr comes to mind) where, yes – the designer specifies that their end product is a .psd file.

    This goes back to the first point about communication. For starters, experienced designers will expect, that is – you will need to provide your designer a clear idea of the following:

    • What you need and what you want it to achieve,
    • Your product vision,
    • Due date,
    • Applicable dimensions or sizes,
    • Expected file format/s,
    • Expected method of delivery (file sharing service, sent to a printer, etc.)

    If you’re not sure about sizing or file format, present use cases. Literally show the places where you want to use graphics and explain what you want the graphics to be.

    Providing detail (and if possible, examples) to the designer will help him or her guide your decision on what the final deliverables will be and what they should look like.

    Some Final Notes for Working with Design Projects

    Working with a designer is an efficient way to create beautifully branded work.  These notes aim to help you with the process of working with design projects – to help both of you capture that “ideal image” or refine an initial concept. The world of design is one of creative ideas; a combination of art and science. As with everything, the process has an enormous impact on the final result. The success of design projects is connected with effective communication – setting clear goals, defining some examples, and providing honest feedback. Perfect that process and you will always have a consistently great result.

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