Opinions are common in the workplace, some people are more vocal about them than others. Harry Callaghan, played by Clint Eastwood, had some choice words to say about opinions, but I’m trying to eat lunch here…
As a UX Designer, there’s nothing that will make my heart sink more than hearing the words “we’re going with this design because Such’N’Such* likes this one better”.
*nope, not a real name.
If you’re designing around people’s opinions, you have nothing to stand on. You might as well just be making this stuff up as you go along. I’ve put together some strategies that you can use when you find yourself defending your design in a room full of opinionated coworkers.
1. You’re The Designer
I wouldn’t dream of telling an accountant how to do finance stuff, a photographer how to choose a lens, or a social media marketer how to use Facebook. It’s time for you to take a stand for what you do, and start gently asserting yourself.
You need to know the fundamental principles of design and use them in your work. When you use balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, variety and unity in your designs, you can always back up a design decision.
“I think that logo should be larger…”
“I based the grid for the interface on the golden ratio, and the logo is sized according to this grid and in proportion to the other elements in the header. The logo is also in alignment with other sections of the website, creating unity throughout the user flow.”
Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
– The Dude
2. Take Yourself Out Of The Equation
As a User Experience Designer, I try as much as possible to detach myself from the project. I am consciously trying to keep my opinions away from the decisions I make, and use design principles and psychological triggers to influence any choices made.
If you are trying to remove other people’s opinions from the design process, you need to include your own in this.
One way to do this is to encourage and reward user insights and suggestions. Try to remove your personal attachment to the project, and be open to new ideas.
3. When In Doubt, Test
If you want some quick feedback, put a short survey together (SurveyMonkey is free if you have less than 10 questions) and post it around some of your peers and friends. SurveyMonkey will even let you set up an A/B test.
Just to confirm here, your users are not people in your office. I have another blog post in the works about internal bias, but just trust me – if you work on the project, even if you are in the target demographic, you are not the user. It’s better to show it to people who are not involved in the project.
So, to sum up, if you know the design principles and can always back up your design decisions, you will be in a position to convincingly argue your point. Try to take your ego out of the process and be open to new ideas and other people’s suggestions. If you are unsure about something, set up a survey or an A/B test to get feedback. This way, opinions won’t impact the design.