Designers need to balance not only creating user experiences but also explaining what they’ve made to a larger audience of non-designers. Here’s how to articulate your design decisions to build trust with your stakeholders.
Set the Context
Don’t just show mockups without setting the stage for what you are presenting. Is this early stage/mid-stage/final stage design work? What type of feedback are your looking for Address these basic questions to give your audience a sense of what you are able to show and set expectations.
For example, if you have placeholder content for text, give a brief disclaimer so it won’t be distracting for the audience.
Some other basic questions to address:
- What is the higher level concept behind your decisions?
- What constraints (such as time, resources, etc.) do you have?
- When will you address feedback? (Do you want to go through all of your content first and then address questions or will you take questions ad-hoc?)
You might say, for example: “this is early stage work, and I’m looking for feedback based off the flow of the interactions. I’m not looking for visual feedback, because the icons or illustrations I have are placeholders.”
Bring it Back to the User Goal
There will inevitably be questions from the audience about why you made a certain decision. At that point, you must course-correct the conversation away from the land of opinions (I like this vs. I hate that) and toward the goal of the design.
By answering the questions below, you can be specific about how you came to your current iteration:
- What is the user trying to accomplish?
- How does this design help the user in accomplishing their goal?
- Why is it better than the alternative?
Have Alternatives on Hand
If you have older iterations, keep those designs ready to show. If someone asks if you explored another direction, you can show that you have thought through the same option and explain why you decided not to continue.
Bring Data to Support Your Decisions
For more contentious topics, you can also bring user data to support your design decisions. If someone asks why option A is being used rather than option B, you can explain how your customers feedback informed this decision.
Great communication between designer and non-designer peers will only help your team and product improve in the future. The goal of articulating design decisions is to clarify that the process of design functions not as a random black box but through logical and user-focused iterations on a goal to improve the product step by step.