Your design is finally done! Phew, what a weight off your shoulders. Now all you need to do is get client approval.
But wait! Before you pass it off to the client, you’ll want some peer critique first. You’ve been staring at the design for a while now, and at this point it’s hard to stay objective.
Get someone else to take a fresh look at the design to ensure that nothing obvious has escaped your initial review. Ask a wide range of people: people with different experiences will notice different things. A designer will notice inconsistencies in your use of button styles; a developer can point out that a feature may be too difficult to implement; a friend might note if something isn’t clear from a lay-person’s perspective.
To help focus feedback, assign your reviewers tasks and ask them specific questions. A few examples:
- If you were to customize this product, where would you start?
- How would you refine these search results?
- If you tapped on this style of button, what would you expect to happen?
- Where would you expect to find more information about this product?
Never Present What You’ve Never Tested
Before you show the customer a design, be sure to test it. As Steve Krug writes in his seminal work “Don’t Make Me Think,” even a single user test could save you a world of extra costs and wasted time. Don’t underestimate the value in testing just once before showing a customer anything. Test early and test often (if possible).
Staggering Your Presentations
Every customer is different and will provide you with unique challenges around communicating design and process. However, over the years, we have developed strategies that help us get design work approved quickly so that we can start building as soon as possible. Typically the design phase is about 2–3 weeks in length with staggered presentations throughout that period to keep the customer involved and engaged. Depending on the customer and the project type we recommend three distinct tactics:
Presenting: Option 1
Our recommended approach based on our experience. Best used with a distributed stakeholder team with no internal UX or design team involved. This process allows you to move quickly and get approval early on prior to investing in the entire design solution.
- Kickoff Call
- Week 1: High-Fidelity Homepage Presentation
- Week 2: High-Fidelity PDP Presentation
Presenting: Option 2
For customers who have a strong UX or in-house design team and want to be involved it is often best to get them involved early by showing low fidelity work out of the gate. We’d recommend:
- Kickoff Call
- +3 Days: Low-Fidelity Homepage and PDP Presentation
- +3 Days: Medium-Fidelity Homepage and PDP Presentation
- +3 Days: High-Fidelity Homepage Presentation
Presenting: Option 3 (App Projects Only)
For App projects, you should focus the first week on solving the overall information architecture and navigation of the app first. This will serve as the foundation of the experience moving forward.
- Kickoff Call
- Week 1: Information Architecture Presentation
- Week 2: High-Fidelity Homepage Presentation
- Week 3: High-Fidelity PDP Presentation
At long last, you can present all your hard work to the your client. But there’s more to it than just plunking your design down in front of the client and asking them if they like it. You’ll want to talk about the problems you solved, and explain why you made the decisions you did.
Set the Tone and Your Expectations
In his book, Design Is a Job, Mike Monteiro has this great statement to kickoff any design presentation:
Some of the things you see will be right, some will be wrong. It’s important to tell me which is which. You can’t hurt my feelings — it’s part of the job. Your negative feedback is more valuable than your positive feedback. If you don’t speak up when something isn’t working, I won’t have a chance to fix it, which will cost us time and money we don’t have. Let’s promise to be totally, brutally honest with one another. Ready?
Use it to set the tone and expectations of your meeting.
Review the Desktop Site
The client will be familiar with their own site, but it helps to remind them of the red boxing exercise (you can even show it), mentioning all the pieces of content you agreed to draw in. Talk about the challenges the content posed. Were there too many images? Lots of options? Different states?
Setting up Prototypes
Designers aren’t magicians: you don’t pull a design out of a hat and call it a day. It takes effort and skill to craft the right solution for a customer. Make sure the customer understands the work involved in getting to this point. Use a slide deck or something like InVision Boards to walk the customer through your process, some work you discarded, along with highlighting challenging considerations you made.
Presenting the InVision Prototype
Instead of showing static mockups, using the prototype — where you can click between states and pages — will provide context for your design. Since you just reviewed the desktop site, you can talk more about what you did with the content you’ve pulled in. This is your chance to really expand on your rationale, and talk about why you chose on the design patterns you used: how do they serve the content?
Did you create a detailed microinteraction prototype? Now’s the time to show it to make sure the client has a complete picture of your vision.
Once you’ve given them a full walkthrough, you can open up for questions. Don’t take all the comments they give you at face value just yet — you don’t want them to make any off-the-cuff decisions. Wait until they have the InVision prototype in their hands and can provide thoughtful feedback.
After the presentation is done, and they’ve gotten a feel for it, send along the InVision prototype (and any other prototypes) so they can review it in their own time. Encourage them to leave comments right in InVision — it’s much easier to track! Make yourself available to answer any additional questions they may have.
Now you wait.