Design Harmony: Have You Mastered It?

Design Harmony: Have You Mastered It?
Summary: You have great design skills, but still experiencing some push-back or gaps with your internal or external clients. There's a possibility that you're missing a key component that could make or break your current and/or future design projects: Design harmony.

Have You Mastered Design Harmony?

Before you begin reading this article about design harmony, do me a favor; close your eyes take a deep breath (open your eyes), then begin to read this thinking more from a client's perspective than that of your own.

Many define "Great Design" as the balance of colors, proper use of elements (e.g. typography, space, imagery, etc.) and even ease of use, as is its definition. Moreover, "Great Design" is much more than mere colors and elements. It's the interpretation of a vision. A vision that requires in-depth understanding, critical-thinking, analysis, and research, leading towards development in a tangible form... but it doesn't end there.

Why not, you may ask?

Well, simply put, gone are the days where technical expertise, coding tests, and flashy prototypes were all that was necessary to satisfy a client’s needs. I mean, don't get me wrong, these are still considered metrics of awesomeness. However, what gets you in the door may not necessarily keep you there.  Believe it or not, there is a single key component that will often make or break development of any design when bringing the vision to fruition, often overlooked, yet lacks heavily in the design world. On the edge of your seat yet, ready to find out what it is? Ok, get ready, because whether you are the client or designer, it’s a good chance that you may have overlooked it yourself.

Ok, what is it already?

It's "Relationship"! Sure there are tons of great designers out there, many with the best in breed technical skills one could offer such as yourself, but what about people skills - the ability to relate to your clients on a personal-professional level. As the designer, do you empathize with your clients challenges, walk them through a non-technical recommendation of your design proposal, in a way that is easily demonstrates understanding of their vision and challenges (not your own preferences), with the ability to convert next steps into realistic time-frames and deliverables? Hopefully the answer is yes and if so, great! However, if you have to think about it then maybe it's time to re-evaluate how you relate to your clients from their perspective.

So what's the remedy for this? Glad you asked.

"Design Harmony" (I'll answer before you ask). Design Harmony, not to be confused with design principle harmony, is a term I've coined to describe the creative process maximizing the use of both relational and technical skills to achieve and maintain the best designs. This is the foundational building block that I use when working with clients across the globe and I must say it has been beneficial to both myself as the designer and my clients. Building on agile strategies, design harmony as a process is neither daunting nor time consuming for neither the designer nor client, but its well worth the effort!

Now the concluding question; how?

Seeking an all-inclusive process diagram, or some cookie-cutter method may not be the best approach to achieving Design Harmony and it shouldn't for good reason. Every client is different, as they believe, special in their own way and they are! So why box them in. It's time for a little extra client relationship TLC from the designer end. I can't tell you how to do everything, yet I won't leave you hanging either. So here are a few considerations for developing your own unique Design Harmony process specific to your clients (this is no way an end-all-be-all, but it's a starting point):

  • Gain a deeper understanding of yourself and how you handle relationships with others (go ahead its free) > Persona Bubble.
  • Once you uncover the gaps, then identify resources and tools to help you improve (maybe take an online class ... oh, did I just say that to a community of trainers??) > Business Relationship Skills and Mistakes to Avoid.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of your clients' internal and external challenges and learn how to empathize effectively (need a resource for that too, here ya' go) > Using Empathy Effectively
  • Then develop your own Design Harmony process specific to both your upgraded relational skills and your clients’ needs and jumpstart your relationship(s).

Please share how you've achieved Design Harmony or how you've overcome personal obstacles and gained success in your client relationships.

Til’ Next Time :-)