Asking for feedback is not always easy, and most of all it’s not always fun. You’ve worked on a design for days, sometimes weeks, you’ve probably fallen in love with your work, and then comes the time of judgement. The dark time when you need to show the design to the world…

Back in the days when my work as a UXD (user experience designer) wasn’t even called that, I never created wireframes. I would do my work by communicating. I would ask million questions that would guide people to educated decisions about the design of their blogs or web pages. Nowadays there are days when I do nothing but wireframes.

I remember a time when I was doing nothing but wireframes, and talking with the client was done by one of my colleagues. We didn’t do any testing with potential users, but just design. The result obviously wasn’t good. I noticed a gap that held me back doing my designs. The lack of connection with our clients and users pushed me into frustration and design block. Perhaps it’s just me, but I need to be in contact with people I work for, to get immersed in the work I’m creating. I need to connect emotionally to do really good work. First with clients, then with potential users.

Process of iteration and iterative design

Wikipedia says iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate an unbounded sequence of outcomes or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an “iteration”, and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration.

For designers, this means a process of back-and-forth-communication and polishing design.

Iterative design is, therefore, a cyclic process of ideation, wireframing, prototyping, testing, analyzing, and polishing a product. It is a powerful method that brings us to a balanced user-centred design that also takes into account the business goals.

Embrace the feedback

Process of creating that perfect design is a process of iteration. It is a process of cooperation, not a competition. When one wins, all win, when one loses all lose.

“Thus, the task of a UX designer, in order to stay true to our calling, doesn’t stop at any deliverable. Even if our “job” is to create wireframes, we cannot be satisfied with passing off wireframes to other team members. If we are truly concerned with the experience of the people who use our product/service, we will infiltrate their world…we will demand to know the quality of their experience.”

– Joshua Porter

Getting early feedback will help you:

  • Resolves misunderstandings early
  • Include clients and increase their a sense of ownership
  • Create a user-centric design
  • Discover pain points
  • Focus on the most import parts/features

In the grand picture, the iterative design will help you save time and money.

Think about designing one feature. Once a feature is implemented it takes a lot more time to fix it, and not only that – it could destroy the first impression and you will lose users. It takes only one-tenth of a second for a person to form a first impression, which is more important today than ever before. The competition is so fierce that you need to be the best of the best to succeed. How many websites have I seen over the years that were selling amazing goods only to kill with their actual web site? There are so many shops nowadays that buyers can simply turn around and buy from another one just because their first impression is bad.

3 seconds. This is how long you have to convince them. 3 seconds. Or less.

Now think of creating the whole product in a vacuum and ship it to the market. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Clients and potential users are equally important

“It’s all about the user”, right? Germans would say, Jain – yes and no. Of course, your design needs to be user-centric or it won’t be used at all, but you do need to find a balance between users and business objectives. This two need to merge in a beautiful union.

So, when we talk about iteration, we are are not merrily talking about iterations with users. We want to keep the clients in the loop and make then into truly informed decision-makers. Try to avoid getting into I-know-it-all state but rather respect and teach (lead) the clients so that they can see the benefit in your design and in user feedback.

Don’t be happy if clients give you all the space in the world. How many times have we heard horror stories of clients that let a designer do whatever he wanted, only to trash the design in the very end? This is easily prevented by keeping clients in the loop.

So, next time you submit your work and you don’t hear anything from your clients, make sure you open your mouth and ask. No matter how much work you have, ask, talk, discuss. And if they don’t want to include potential users? That’s a whole other topic, but the best advice I can give you is: Become an ambassador for your users and show the value to the clients.

Until next time, learn and create great things!
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