I don’t know what this list is yet. I’ve had several opening paragraphs. There is a little bit of designing for change; a little bit of building trust to get things done. Will flag for follow up.
Some techniques I’ve found useful…
- Ask questions the users would ask. A simple “Do I want to submit the email now or send them all together?” can go a long way in getting everyone to think like a user.
- Prioritize use-cases. Always consider and discuss the likelihood of particular use cases you feel is gumming up the works. Many ‘what-ifs’ can be put into perspective by thinking about how likely the scenario is and how crucial the impact would be.
- Establish the big picture… but don’t make it a site map. They don’t get sitemaps. They just don’t. And that’s ok. Create a conceptual structure for the experience. This will allow a bend-but-not-break approach to changes in scope and functionality. It will allow you to establish scope and division of labor without needing to get bogged down in the nitty gritty. As long as there is a conceptual structure to the experience, you can absorb some of the inevitable slicing and dicing. A breaking point may be approached sometimes. The discussion is then centered around the breakdown of the concept model and a decision must be made to stick to the vision or retool the model. Sticking with the model has always been the most fruitful path.
- Provide value to the discussion. Be the expert in the room by being on top of trends and hard statistics. Being the source of the sound bytes that support decisions in the design never hurts.
- Build trust by delivering great stuff. All the powerpoint decks in the world can’t replace delivering something (anything) that shows that you have listened. Furthermore, if you’ve digested the information and can understand the problem better than the client, you will gain their trust.
- Share the fun… be engaged in the pain. The creative process has its fun moments where ideas are dreamy and nothing is out of scope. Brainstorm meetings are well… they’re entertaining. But there is always the moment of truthiness where good ideas go to die. By engaging in this process and understanding the true reasons behind objections, compromises can be made to at least maintain some semblance of the original ideas. Some you let go of and some you pursue. Being engaged in the process allows you to at least try to work out some solutions before letting go.