Client Centric Design – Lunchtime mini-conf

Luke Canvin

We have introduced a new series of lunchtime get-togethers at the OCC office, where we watch a talk from a conference related to some aspect of our industry. These will cover a wide-range of subjects including design, development, working with clients, user experience, creativity and data.

The first talk was "Client Centric Web Design", from DIBI 2012, where Paul Boag speaks about how to build a collaborative relationship with clients and produce work far better than we could in isolation. It’s a great talk and includes some really useful pointers on encouraging the right kind of feedback, dealing with disagreements, and educating the client so that they can add value to the project.

Paul Boag talking on Client Centric Web Design

You can watch the video online and you can also find out more about Client-centric design on Paul’s blog - if you scroll down to the “podcast” section, each episode has a full accompanying blog post, so you can read instead of listen if you prefer.

In discussion afterwards, we noted that the following points were particularly useful to take away:

  • Create a relationship with your client where they give you problems and you provide the solutions. This will help bypass the issues that arise from your client attempting to give you solutions when they are not the expert and may not have fully thought through the problem.
  • Create video snippets to demonstrate new features/designs to the client, it ensures they will hear your thoughts and justifications for the choices you have made, and doesn’t leave them in the dark simply trying to decide if they like it.
  • When getting feedback on your work, rather than ask “what do you think”, which invites them to express their personal opinion, ask very specific questions that demand a yes/no answer. For example, “will the target audience be able to easily complete their tasks?” or “Does the product reflect what was agreed in the specification?”.

The first point was a topic of further debate. It's easier for many clients to describe hypothetical solutions, and there is certainly a skill to be developed in turning their description into the definition of a problem they are trying to solve, and then working from there.