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Working as a interaction designer together with graphic designers (or marketing people in general) I sometimes get the strong feeling that we sound too boring when we try to implement usability best practices.

Like: - Great. here he comes dragging his boring points about site speed killing my animated fullscreen background image idea or my very cool intro movie that would have won an award.

I feel that you could argue about the importance of smooth user flow etc, but it doesn't stick. It's not their motive behind being a graphic designer. This tension leads to poorer project results.

How do you tackle graphic designers who behave like this?

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Not sure about tackling boring, but what about important? If someone refuses to do something boring, perhaps remind them they are being paid to do it? –  Myrddin Emrys Apr 25 '12 at 19:57
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Users sure don't seem to think it's boring –  Ben Brocka Apr 25 '12 at 21:45
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@BenBrocka Ideally, users shouldn't think about it at all ;) –  msanford Apr 26 '12 at 17:40
    
Ask them to keep a list of websites which they come across - which they find annoying... –  PhillipW Apr 29 '12 at 20:11
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@msanford not true, they should think "Wow, that was easy!" or "Wow, that was fun!" Usability shouldn't elicit a reaction, UX should –  Ben Brocka May 1 '12 at 18:32
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7 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

This is actually a pretty common question that is being asked in an uncommon way. I think a better question would be "How do I deal with people (including other designers) who don't realize the importance of UX? Or how do I help people understand that UX should be at the core of any business/project?

I think much of this controlled by you (the UX designer). Regardless of how much people don't like to hear your ideas, your job is to be the voice of the user. I work at a company that has embraced UX to a large extent from the top to bottom but I still have debates all the time with others within the office about features, communications, marketing..etc. Defending the user is not easy, even in a company that's focused on experience. This is a constant struggle but there are techniques to help other understand the importance of UX.

Here's a few things that help:

  • Bring your users to the table Your users want you to solve a problem, not win fancy visual design awards or have animated background images. Present visual designers with your user research and even get them involved in talking to users. This will help the visual designers understand that goals of a given feature/screen/flow.
  • Teach other team members the fundamentals of UX. Get them involved in the process. Where I work, everyone from the designers to the developers to communications/marketing people have some understanding of UX. This helps get "buy in" to good UX decisions and also helps catch mistakes I make as everyone can identify good UX from bad UX.
  • Have strong examples to back up your points. "We shouldn't do X because company ABC did it this way with Y and it was awesome". Point to examples where good UX was rewards but conversions, sales..etc.

A couple other things. If your graphic designer think's she/he is an artist, you've got a problem. Design is a science and is goal oriented. This is true for UX, visual design, print design, industrial design..and so on. If they're not designing for those goals, they're doing it wrong and it should probably be brought to the attention of your management. If the goal of a page is to convert sign ups and they are designing with a goal of dazzling users with flashing page elements and animations you're in trouble. :-)

One last point is that visual design is also part of UX and you should have a strong understanding of their job as well. This may be obvious but taking interest in their work will contribute to them taking an interest in yours.

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+1 for "If your graphic designer think's she/he is an artist, you've got a problem. Design is a science and is goal oriented." –  Frantisek Kossuth Apr 30 '12 at 7:26
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Clayton Correia has given an excellent answer and the only things I would add to it are:

  1. Talk to people in their language : If you are dealing with Marketing folks explain while being pretty and nice is an advantage, if people are trying to perform a task and if they cant do it efficiently it will reduce their productivity and hence the effective conversion which might result in dis-satisfied customers.Explain how UX can help them achieve this and also help them sell their products. Use examples of companies who have invested a lot in user testing to see how effective usability has enhanced their product and kept them ahead of the competition

Look at this article which talks about how one second delay in page rendering could affect Amazon's revenues by nearly 1.6 Billion dollars as an example

While talking to graphic designers explain that while graphic or visual design has its place (and acknowledge it) your inputs on usability will only help their designs stand out more and be more effectively used as opposed to be just visual candy for users.

  1. Remind them that they are not the users of the product despite how well they know it : One of the challenges I have had with graphic designers is that they believe that they know the product better than anyone else and the response is "This is how people will use it or understand it", use usability test data or even quick 5 second tests to highlight where users are focusing on and how that's affecting the overall business of the organization or the department (since effectively the designer needs to work towards fufilling the objective of the organization and not his artistic renderings)
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+1 for Communicating with the language and terminology of the people you deal with. Opposition is a bit of a negative term though :-) –  Roger Attrill Apr 26 '12 at 7:22
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Can anyone assume what they know or do is important or interesting to others? Best to assume the opposite.

Top line is presentation, middle is content. Bottom line is earnings.

Satisfaction and rewards come after learning how to make websites that users Love AND your company more Profitable.

P & L

thanks to Johnny H thanks to chris L

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+1 just for the awesome pictures. =) –  dnbrv Apr 29 '12 at 20:09
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Other answers have credible points. In particular, get everyone involved. Early!

But here's a useful tip:

If you can use personas, then do so - not because personas are the be all and end all, but because they help everyone understand who they are designing for.

You maybe only need one persona - Bob.

Does this design work for Bob? Would Bob use this?

Keep Bob alive. Post him up on the wall and on the back of the bathroom door. Make the issue about Bob, not about you, not about anyone else. It will help deflect issues of antagonism and attitudes between people and teams and bring you together to work for Bob.

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Boring or not, it should interest them because it's a big part of a graphic designer's job. Their designs need to serve a purpose, and if the UX is bad they have failed to meet their goals.

It's certainly possible to have a beautiful design with good UX. Perhaps you are coming in too late in the process. Or maybe relate it to ROI (also boring) or something?

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I can't make someone think UX work is interesting. But you can explain why it is important. Jacob Neilson, because he makes money from training Usability experts, has a lot of great articles on why web design isn't like print design, on the conflict between creativity and usability, and the business value (ROI) of usability. I am not sure how you can make it fun for them, but it's quite possible to stress the importance and value.

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The same Jakob Nielsen who hates designers and swoops and poops on design. Not sure if introducing him to designers would be all that great. I'd recommend Jared Spool though and there are many other designer/UX people like Luke Wrobelwski who understand both the importance of great design and experience. –  firedrawndagger Apr 26 '12 at 2:33
    
I don't think it's fair to say he poops on designers. More accurate is that he thinks Usability always trumps design, and that almost any usability guideline can be made to look good without sacrificing the guideline. He does poop on 'being unique visually is worth a penalty in usability', and that's certainly a conflict with some designers. –  Myrddin Emrys Apr 26 '12 at 2:55
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Bah, Nielsen is boring. He writes a good game, but doesn't post a single picture to show you anything, which makes him almost worthless.

Following the user-centered design mantra, put users at the center of your focal point.

Harmony between design and development entirely geared toward exceeding user expectations is always the best way to go.

Try to avoid seeing peers as "us" or "them", it only breeds ill will, and does not promote sharing and flow. You are all on the same team. Act it.

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