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For a same interface, should I show to managers/clients all the options that came to my mind (even the one that are not appropriated) or should I only show the best one or the one I suggest?

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When I go for a client visit to show my designs or Wireframes, I start by pitching the design which I created first, then the one which I create second last and then finally I show the one which I really liked.

When i show the one which I created 1st and 2nd last, I try to make them understand what mistakes I have made so that i can convince them that there are a lot of thought behind the design I am pitching in. When i arrive at the last one, they are almost confident of my creativity and thought process and they try to understand how I overcame the mistake which I did in the last 2 options. They gives a lot of room to discuss around the same topic rather than discussing about their preferences.

It helps me bring USER perspective to the design table when i am explaining my method of design.

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Usually, for me having a couple of good options is better than just one. If the team rejects one option you still have another one to show. Having multiple options available can help better communicate the pros and cons of the options. Also since most projects have resource constraint having different options can help managers/clients make a decision that works for their constraint (e.g. option 1 is more intuitive but takes twice as much to implement, option 2 is less intuitive but takes half time to implement). The team may go for option 2 knowing that the feature is very rarely used and they better spend time on some other feature that is more important. Of course, you might want to start with showing UI option that in your opinion provides the best UX and then move on to the next options. Since you don't want the teams to always pick "easy to implement" option and sacrifice UX :)

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I agree with Anna: it's important to present options.

Coming from agencyland, clients want to see that you've done the legwork. Don't present all your ideas, just the top three or four. Internal reviews with your team will help to select the leading options.

It's also important to honestly list the pros and cons of each option. This will help your client/manager choose one.

Finally, have an opinion. Make the case for what you think is the best option, but be prepared to gracefully concede should your client choose a different one.

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I always was trained and show two options, no matter the project. It gets into human psychology and saving time more so than creating the "best" design. People tend to want to compare something they are critiquing to another work. If you have just your one option, maybe they'll compare it to your competitor or another work that you can't go ahead and use. Comparing to another option you've created means they can mix and match portions from both.

That said, there is some value to keeping any other versions you created "in your back pocket". If the managers start suggesting something that you've already tried and failed with, showing them that attempt and ruling it out immediately can save a lot of time and aggravation on your part.

No matter what/how many you present, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be able to defend your design decisions, even if it's just, "I wanted to explore another option, but I don't think it works as well."
  • Have many different talking points to show how much thought went into it.
  • Have a preference. Even though they may want to play designer (and you can let them to a certain extent), you're the design professional and having an opinion shows you care and are doing the best job you can.
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I think it is critical to share the design rationale with the client.

I like to create a design document which shows the entire history of my design process including all discarded ideas/sketches. I then walk the client through my thinking and why I made the choices that i did. In this way we can identify points where i may have slightly gone of track. I find this an essential part of my design exploration and iteration.

To be honest some clients find this difficult at first but they soon get it. The point is that you need to educate people to understand that design is a process of choosing one solution from many millions of possible ones. Many people think that there is one "right" answer and usually that is not the case! By showing the design rationale you get allow them to understand that and gradually move towards a shared understanding of the problem space and then whereabouts in the "solution space" your ideal final design might lie.

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