Among things supporting the process, we should also mention mood boards that gather inspirations, ideas, benchmarks, information on competition – all of this in a form that helps build the product. In a mood board, the client may present elements that they think will match their visions and formulate some guidelines based on them.
The next stop is the User Interface phase, where the wireframes are “colored” with elements, like dedicated fonts, colors, pictures and icons that add character to the product. When it comes to building elements of the product, we work in a design approach which means designing reusable elements. Of course, the product is unique, based on a handcrafted, bespoke design but we don’t reinvent the wheel. Some features may be based on open source, ready-to-use elements and result in avoiding unnecessary additional development work. This perspective is a consequence of the rapid and lean approach in design and the knowledge of developers’ pains. To make further work easier, we gather all crucial data in the projects’ documentation: fonts, colours, padding spaces, etc. All these elements are used by developers to fully transform the project into the product. To avoid misunderstandings, the design team works closely with developers, enabling easy access in case any explanation or guidance is needed.
What if we skip any of these steps? What is the worst that could happen if we omit discovery workshops or skip wireframes and make a clickable prototype right away?
A product designer can visualize the product faster than the development team. Spending hundreds of hours on coding without a project design often results in numerous problems. Some of them can seriously threaten the product’s success. Product design is comparable to that architectural plan for your house. Not just drawing, but gathering the right requirements, adjusting them to the budget. That’s the use of prioritizing elements in the first place – as long as the walls and roof are not in place, don’t buy the shower curtains. What I’m meaning to say is that it is possible, to an extent, to build a product without investing time in design, but the results may vary. Very often, clients do not have the technical knowledge and while left on their own, wouldn’t be able to build the product that’s on their minds. Good collection of requirements lets us avoid micromanagement to an extent. That is important particularly when the project is launched and constant changes will affect the budget and the release date. Sometimes, during the design process, we find out what the client meant in the first place but was unable to present initially. This saves time on development and lets the client actually get the product they need.
How can the client prepare for this process? What should they already have when reaching out to a service/product design team?
Before building the product, the client should know to whom they are addressing their idea, who the users (and payers) will be. The product that will be built won’t land in a vacuum – it will reach the market and is supposed to serve a certain role. The client should discuss their idea and the problems behind it. To do so, they should ask people they suppose might be future users of their solution, have at least a rough idea on the value and the unique selling point. Further on, the client should know their competition and, of course, choose the right team. Even if the customer is a visionary, they must be also aware that not everything can be unique. There are some hard evidence and data that show which solutions work and which are just pretty looks.
How can a layman tell they found a good design team?
The traits of good product designers are the problem-solving approach and the will to transfer an idea into a working product. Before choosing the UX/UI studio, the client may ask the designers about the portfolio of similar projects or experience in products designed for a certain market, but this is not the absolute rule. What I think is more important is the client’s awareness that a good studio wants them to be an active participant in the process and take part in building the best product we can bring to life together.
How can a client tell that the design is good? There are situations where the client reaches out to a development team and wants just the code. Are there any real-life examples that show that design helped in product’s success?
The main criteria are not just pretty looks! We are all about aesthetics and do follow certain trends in visuals, but the most important matters are usefulness and feasibility. We don’t believe in beautiful products that don’t work. Moreover, we follow best practices guidelines regarding web content accessibility. In these terms, accessibility includes solutions making interactions with the final product easier for customers with e.g. visual impairments, resulting in applying certain fonts and color sets that are easier to handle.