“Make it simple, but significant,” said Don Draper on Mad Men. And while he was a true marketing legend in his fictional world, such phrases don’t define a clear message. Properly expressing a project brief that marries both the company’s business goals and customer needs definitely leads to an efficient design. But how to reach this perfect communication? In this interview, our Lead Illustrator for one of the products here at Tesonet Raminta Jogminaitė represents the designer’s squad and shares some valuable ideas.
First of all, how would you describe an effective and happy design team?
I think one of the most important things that makes an effective team is a common vision, or, in other words, meaning and purpose. It inspires everyone in the team, keeps us motivated to reach greater goals, and to go the extra mile when completing the task or a project. Also, a communicative and open-minded approach plays a great role here as well. It’s encouraging when everyone can speak their mind and share their insights about on-going projects or designs, work on their own, but also share one another’s work to help the team members achieve better results. Probably that’s why there’s a common saying that communication is the key to success. As for a designer, one should be individually strong in the field, curious, and not afraid to think outside the box.
And what practices of communication do you employ in your team?
We have weekly/monthly meetings to see what each designer was up to and discuss others’ projects, share ideas, and opinions. Besides, every quarter we have 1:1 with our team lead to talk about our concerns or insights regarding our job.
Recently, an expression came across “A designer without communication skills is just a pixel pusher”. Where do you think this attitude comes from?
I believe it comes from the fact that some designers create and some designers make. Anyone aware of certain design programs can push an object a few pixels further or back. It’s not rocket science. However, communication is what defines a designer as they communicate their ideas through text and visuals, solve complex problems with colors, shapes, and forms. More than that, it requires constant communication between him/her and a client and an ability to clearly understand the client’s business, its needs, and goals, to listen and ask the right questions, then properly gather information and put all this in a form of a visual. If a designer fails that, then the question stays: have they contributed anything beyond pushing pixels to the one or another direction?
What soft-skills are most important in making a good designer?
Probably the most fundamental soft skill is communication as this is the only way to really understand the given task and deliver a great product or produce a great final result. Another one would be strong time management as it helps to juggle between the tasks, meet the deadlines, and stay productive. But also I’d like to mention a few absolutely necessary but not so obvious soft skills: staying curious and never stopping learning, being able to give and receive valuable and constructive feedback, being as great a collaborator as possible.
Now you mentioned constructive feedback. How would you describe frustration-free design feedback?
First of all, it’s essential to understand that client’s feedback matters to a designer. It helps a designer to grow professionally, also, it improves the quality of design, unless it’s a vague comment like, “I don’t like it” which basically leads nowhere and might even demotivate a designer to finalize a visual. So, for frustration-free feedback, I’d suggest a client be specific and clear when explaining why something may not work regarding the visual. And, of course, don’t forget to compliment a designer for the hard work that’s already done – it will keep them motivated and enthusiastic.
How many other teams do you work with? Do you find it challenging to get access to the information you need?
The design team works with all 16 marketing departments and helps them to reach their KPIs goals. To avoid essential information being missed within the task, we’ve prepared the brief template. Of course, sometimes it’s still not enough and some additional information is needed – in such cases a designer communicates directly with a person responsible for the task.
The way the audience responds to some content makes it also a form of interaction between designers and customers. How important is this means of communication to you?
Yup, it’s A/B/C testing that plays a huge role in our everyday work. It helps us to understand the customer, what they need, what attracts them the most, what’s trending, and what to look up to in the future. Also, it helps us to improve, create more visually appealing designs, think of new creative ways to reach our customers, and fit their needs at its best.
And finally, please share some tips on how marketers (or other teams) should communicate with designers to make the whole process more effective?
We, designers, truly appreciate when marketers come with a clear brief and when they know themselves what they need to be done within the task. Of course, it’s necessary to collaborate and be open-minded instead of getting way too attached to your own ideas. Trusting a designer’s opinion and competence could actually increase the chances of ending up with a better final result than expected.