Remember the feeling that comes when you think you wrote all the right answers in the exam but when you are handed the mark sheet and you barely passed?
I am sure most of us have gone through that.
Well, I experienced almost the same feeling in my early days at Mantra Labs.
I had gotten assigned to a new project and was super duper grateful for this big responsibility. I dived right into it and wanted to do all of it on my own. I really thought I did everything perfectly.
We know what is said about perfection, it is difficult to achieve.
“In design, there is no perfection, there is just iteration.” (Design Gyaan 001 )
This is exactly what I said to myself when I failed. (Big words)
My client was this really big organization. I was working till the very last minute for the first meeting and thought to give it my best.
I joined the call with all my designs and just assumed all my work and efforts would be well appreciated.
The 2 words that best fit the first client meeting. It was everything I had not anticipated.
There were almost 15 top management people present from their end.
(Nervous alert – the feeling you get when you see the exam paper and know nothing).
I suddenly realized I was not clear on how to introduce my concept and present my design. All the keywords in my brain seemed to have gone on vacation at that moment.
(That’s how I wrote my exam answers. Not just me, most of us did.)
Also, it wasn’t all my unpreparedness and nervousness that led to the downfall of that meeting. They had a very direct approach and their feedback was also not very clear.
I came out of the call almost in tears and was extremely put off.
That was the emotion I felt after it and thought I wasn’t ready for this big transition. Felt even worse thinking that all my hard work was for nothing.
The next day I got back to work. With the help of my managers, we changed our strategy for approaching the project. We did a brainstorming (whiteboarding) session with not just the design team, but also with project managers, marketing, and the business team. We scrapped all of our old designs and came up with 3 unique design ideas and iterated on these.
I aligned the design process to match the client’s requirements and my company’s standards and prepared for the next meeting.
Changing the strategy played into our hands and we were more confident with our new versions of designs. I understood where I faulted earlier and prepared for my meeting before. I made a small set of key pointers that helped me drive the conversation and explain my designs easily.
“Always make notes before the exam for revision” (Design Gyaan 002 )
In the next meeting, the clients realized I had understood the assignment and we had a more fruitful discussion. We showed them our designs with the new strategies implemented and they reciprocated positively. We cracked the design pitch meeting in the second call and had a path to move forward.
I walked out of the second meeting with a big smile on my face. (It was like getting straight A’s)
I did realize the places where I was lacking and needed to work on and since then I have started to maintain all these as part of my practice.
NOW FOR THE …..REPORT CARD
1. Agenda: Innovate and not just design
All the research, competitor study, beautiful elements, and trending UI styles didn’t work. While approaching a project it’s the innovation behind it that stands out and makes it work and not the research combined with beautiful design. New ideas don’t exist, until you come up with one.
2. Notebook: Writing in a notebook helps.
The old-fashioned pen-paper approach is key. Writing down keywords for your design that will help you in explaining your audience about it will make it easier for you. It helps you put all your thoughts in place and you won’t miss out on the important things you need to convey. Also, don’t make the mistake of doing this in your Notes app on the laptop because mostly you will be sharing your screen.
3. Pointers: Prioritise Goals
Make a list of all the tasks in your bucket and choose the top 5 tasks to complete. For that particular day, you can prioritize 3 tasks, one simple, one major requirement, and one that interests you. Do the simple one first and this will help you check one off and give you a sense of accomplishment. Then take up the major one and then the last one. You would have completed a major task and also be happy at the end of the day with doing the one that interests you.
4. Subject knowledge: Know your tool properly to be the best!
I learnt greatly more about the tool Adobe XD and its features while working on the design pitch. I learned how to organize my files to make the workflow efficient. Also, I learned more about how to present my design screens.
Don’t forget to charge your laptop before any important call and to keep the charger handy. Also, close all your Google chrome tabs, you don’t want them to peak at your mess. Another interesting thing is to try to document your design progress. I maintained this in the Miro board application. This has helped me to view my progression from the first design and see how much I have improved.
About the Author:
Diya is an architect turned UI/UX Designer, currently working at Mantra Labs. She values designing experiences for both physical and digital spaces.
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