Presenting Your Design
Vignesh Gopalan, Former UX Design Intern
How to successfully present the design choices you make.
I’m halfway through my internship at Viget and have become more familiar with what a UX designer does (information modeling, usability testing, and so on). But what has stood out the most to me, is that a UX designer needs to know how to present and defend their choices. It may be common sense, but this is an essential skill when creating products because the process is highly collaborative and iterative. In many professional settings, one should expect to discuss their choices with other designers, different kinds of team members (developers, project managers, etc.), and clients.
Here are a few brief lessons that I’ve learned from my own experience and observations:
1. Be confident
If you don’t confidently believe what you say, it’s going to be difficult to convince other people to do so. Self-assured body language and tone are important aspects of presentation in general and are the foundation of being a convincing designer.
That said, it’s important to not let your confidence rest on too many unchecked assumptions. User interviews were quick to poke holes in some of the assumptions I made initially when starting my current project. It’s easier (and smarter) to be confident after undergoing a thorough process.
2. Explain your reasoning (and ask other designers for their explanations)
The “I did ‘x’ because of ‘y’ and ‘z’” approach serves as a simple but reliable method. When working with the rest of the intern team it was common for me to say something like, “We changed the design for our ‘Create Poll’ window to this version because we encountered confusion about when polls expire during usability testing.” Ideally your reasoning is based on user research. Also, showing references and examples of effective designs online that mirror or inspired your choices can strengthen your case.
And often, designers have different ideas about how to solve a problem. I’ve found that comparing the reasons for different choices makes it easier to objectively choose a direction. Breaking down each line of reasoning further has helped me see if the benefits of one choice outweighs that of another or if I’m unnecessarily splitting hairs.
3. Be open to new ideas from your audience
After presenting, you should expect some feedback and be open to new ideas. Maybe your design has some flaws that could be resolved easily with another method. Maybe you realize you didn’t understand an issue as well as you thought you did. Consulting senior designers at Viget has allowed me to reconsider approaches in my wireframes or research and pursue alternatives that I neglected.
It can be difficult, but sometimes we need to step back and step off the train of thought that we were riding for so long to holistically evaluate it in a new light. If you’re defending your design, it is likely because you want to persuade others you made the best choices for the project, and you should do that because you want the project to be as successful as possible. If you didn’t make the best choice (despite the time and effort spent on it), accepting feedback on how to improve will only help you be successful.
Understanding how to present ideas may be almost as important as understanding how to shape and produce them. Reflecting on this and the other lessons I’ve outlined have been helpful for me, and hopefully this short overview of presenting design provided some helpful insight for you as well. Thanks for reading!