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I have been a UX designer at use.design for 8 years. Logistic, aerospace, healthcare, public services, chemical industry, digital, telecommunications, finance… I ‘m lucky enough to have a job that lets me experience and discover different sectors, meet users, customers and professionals who are each more captivating than the other; engage in discussions about new and innovative concepts….
The strength of use.design’s teams lies in their experience and unwavering commitment to provide the best possible service to clients and their end-users, regardless of the scale or context of the service or product.
As experts, being part of consulting and support missions, we are asked to respond to the specific needs of a company. The client often call us with a specific objective in mind: to improve a product, to build on what already exists, to correct the ergonomics of a user interface… And it is often toward this primary objective that a mission’s proposal is formed: we are asked to provide our technical know-how. As a result, a client will have expectations, in terms of delivery, that will often take a tangible and finished form: a user interface, guidelines, a design system…
Most of the time, this is what happens and the mission is a straightforward journey, resulting in a better service or product for the end-users, which increases their satisfaction and in turn increases sales.
“Research is creating new knowledge.” – Neil Armstrong
However, sometimes, a discovery, while on the field or through a discussion with stakeholders, or with end-users during the project, can lead to a simple observation: Our client’s vision and objectives are totally misaligned with what its end-users need from their product or what would be good for its desirability or viability.
It’s not difficult to understand how this kind of situation comes about. Financial and strategic priorities, internal power struggles, mean that a biased and partial vision has taken precedence over reality. The reasons can be multiple. A poorly designed development approach, leaving little room for flexibility and experimentation; the frantic pace of developing an idea, which does not allow a team to take the necessary step back on the work done; the fear of failure – It is always difficult and frightening to have to question one’s hard work.
Challenge a mission and its scope to serve a client and not just a project?
In this situation, a team of designers can choose between two opposing strategies.
“Assuming if there’s such a thing as reality, if you have a false relationship with it, how can you do anything but fail?” – Jordan Peterson, Canadian – Psychologist
Approche 1 : Approach 1: Stick to the client’s vision and objectives.
The designers produce all the requested deliverables and thus allow the customer to continue on the chosen path. Of course, they will take into account their discoveries in the field, they will use all their know-how and experience to bring value to their work and guarantee deliverables of impeccable quality. I would call this approach”…and everyone is happy!”. It allows immediate gratification for the client and the users of his product. For designers, it is the guarantee of a fulfilled contract – in the short to medium term.
On the other hand, the tacit agreement of the designer’s expertise in the service of his client is not properly implemented. By hiding the reality of the situation from the client, without having given him the opportunity to make an informed choice, the designer is responsible for the potential failure of the product in the mid-term. If not officially a failure, it is an intellectual one.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
Approach 2: Questioning the mission and/or its scope.
In this second approach, designers decide to highlight inconsistencies or limitations in the client’s vision and objectives. Often, it means showing that the current mission is not the one that would best serve the interests of the product or company. The corollary being that the mission should change priorities and form. Sometimes also change in size. This is a complicated choice to make at first sight, as the client’s initial need will be challenged and his vision dismantled. He will probably feel insecure, lost. This situation may result in defiance or mistrust towards the designers. In addition, some contractual commitments could put designers in jeopardy. This is THE uncomfortable situation by definition.
However, it is this second approach that is the most honest, and that we encourage at use.design. As the expert, the designer has a duty of transparency and advice towards his client. He must show and demonstrate the problems encountered, then propose long-term support approaches, as well as short-term actions to transform these difficulties into opportunities. The former will cause discomfort; the latter will help the client launch himself into action. It is only from this moment onward that we, as designers, prove our true value. By exposing the reality, and proposing an approach that supports our client in coping with it, we give him the opportunity to choose. Knowledge is power.
As for knowing what choice the client will make, there is no guarantee, but we will be committed to supporting him. Whether it is on strategy, complementary field research, the design of a new product, assistance with internal processes… As often, interpersonal skills and technical know-how will help to avoid or limit the turbulence zone.
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” – Kofi Annan