How do we as UX designers communicate our ideas effectively?

Process, Presentation, UX

Image source: Unsplash

Presenting ideas to get stakeholders, or getting clients to sign off can at times be a difficult and frustrating experience.

Designers at Seven Peaks communicate face-to-face with lots of clients. In many ways, we act as the face of the company for large parts of the project.

It’s important for us that we work together with our Front and Backend Developers, QA, Product Managers, and Marketing team to communicate a united voice to our clients.

Solid communication is key to our project success and building strong client relationships.

Designers sometimes have difficulty presenting their ideas to clients and other departments because they forget they’re communicating to an audience who don’t speak the same visual language as them.

For example stakeholders often only want to see the final product wireframes, the investors may only be interested in the numbers, the project managers might only see hours used on ideas instead of output.

The question is “How do we as UX designers communicate our ideas effectively to these different types of personalities?”

Here’s what we do at Seven Peaks Software:

Before presenting…

  • Make sure your work is mistake free. Getting your design buddies to review your work before a demo is key to reducing errors and helps keep the audience focused and engaged in your presentation. 
  • Prepare a Minutes of Meeting document to take note of all the feedback and discussion points during your meetings. Note taking is a key skill to have for any designer.
  • If it is a remote meeting, make sure to set up and test all devices before the meeting. Don’t be the team who always has hardware problems at the start of a video conference!
  • Know your audience! Make sure you have a clear agenda and are prepared with the right answers to the questions you know they will ask.

Here’s a few more tips on how to approach presenting your designs:

Provide context and background

Always provide context to the people you are presenting to. Engage them with a story and a little bit of background of the project.

Who is the user and what are they trying to accomplish? Put your listeners in the shoes of the users so they can empathize.

Image source: Unsplash

Align on problems

If you’re looking to find solutions to problems, make sure everyone is aligned on the problems first! This may sound obvious but when people understand a problem differently the expected solutions are going to be wrong!

Image source: Boost Labs

Share insights with backup data

Knowledge withheld is knowledge lost! Share your research or your insight. Point out what you have learned during the research and how it influences design solutions.

Provide data to back up your research report. When presenting the research, make it clear and easy to follow. Visual could help people digest a lot of data more effectively.

Image source: Unsplash

Suggest solutions with alternatives

Propose solutions and alternatives with pros and cons. Show stakeholders some screens prototype. Walk them through the flow with each scenario. Avoid presenting a whole design at once.

After that make sure all stakeholders follow and understand how things work. Always connect proposed solutions to business needs or product goals so that stakeholders understand how the design works in the big picture.

Image source: Unsplash

Unfold the constraints

Designs always have constraints. Make sure people are aware of constraints such as time, cost, technical and business-related. Explain the way constraints affect a design solution.

Image source: Bootcamp – UX Design

Explain the technical terms or UX jargons

Keep in mind that not everyone is familiar with the technical terms or methodology. Adapt your language to the audience. People often don’t like to ask what something means for fear of looking bad in front of others. So the easier you can explain a method or technical meaning the more understanding your audience will be.

Gather all feedback

Gather all feedback and store documents where your team can access it. It keeps track of the discussion and can be used as a backup when it comes to challenges on designs. All feedback is valuable even though it may not be used to develop a design, we will at least know each stakeholders’ point of view.

Be proactive

Always ask for feedback or follow-up if there is no response. Ask whenever you don’t understand or have doubt on any subjects, discussion, or anything! Being proactive goes a long way and helps keep a project moving forward.

Stay strong and be open-minded

Your ideas should evolve as your understanding of the problem evolves. It’s ok to believe in your ideas, and you should! But compromise and objective reasoning is a key skill in convincing stakeholders to trust your opinion and shows you have explored all the angles.

Conclusion

“Presenting ideas is ultimately about just knowing your audience and how to engage them.”
– Sarah Gibbons, Nielsen Norman Group’s Chief Designer

Presenting UX ideas that no one can engage or understand could cause misinterpretation and get inaccurate feedback. Presenting ideas can be fun. It helps you build confidence, develop communication skills and learn how to work with other people, especially non-designers.

Just Prepare your ideas, Practice speaking in front of people, and Present with confidence. Do it as when you design then you would be fine!

Written By

Nasiri, UX/UI designer at Seven Peaks Software

References:

  1. How to Present UX Design Ideas. NNgroup on YouTube (2019-07-12).
  2. 11 tips for presenting your UI/UX designs to non‑designers. Dribbble Stories (2019-07-22).
  3. Presenting your Designs to Non-Designers. Prototypr – Blog (2017-05-05).
  4. How to present design work to non-designers. UX Collective (2018-12-11).
  5. 6 tips to ace your next UX design presentation. Justinmind – Blog (2020-02-19).
  6. Stay Cool: How to Take Design Feedback Strategically. Toptal – Designers.

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