Explaining your process to non-design thinkers

Have you ever been in a meeting where it seems like everyone is talking different languages? Design, Marketing and Sales teams all seem to have a unique way to get their ideas across, but it’s often difficult to understand all points of view.

Often it can seem like your terms and ideas when presenting a project, can create barriers to communication rather than moving toward a unified goal. Finding a means to collaborate and work together on a project can, at times, be hard work.

Communicate your creativity

In order to collaborate more easily, you’ll need to keep an open mind. Effective communication is one of the most important aspects of any job. Without being able to explain your ideas clearly to clients, the work can become unmanageable.

The beginning of any project should start by asking them every possible question you can think of. Understanding as much as possible will help with any issues that may arise further down the line. And in turn, a thorough discussion at the start of a project will settle the possible fears of everyone around the table. It’s just as important for the designer to learn and understand the marketing and the sales team point of view as any other.

The may have valid and useful insights into the clients end users, which would influence the design process greatly.

“Effective communication is one of the most important aspects of any job.”

Adapting to your audience

It seems like a simple solution when written as a header, but all too often, we as designers all to often revert to type and explain things with creative jargon that seems second nature to us. Unfortunately not everyone will understand these terms.

Photoshop’, for example, has almost now become a verb for a wider audience and no longer simply refers to the application itself. Only recently I was asked by a client if I could show them my ‘Photoshop’. I assumed they weren’t just interested to see what version I was using. 😉

Adapting your language to suit the audience in front of you is key to becoming a more effective communicator. Time spent on improving your communication skills will help you to reap the rewards later. If every feels like they are part of a process they understand then more often than not the project will be easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

5 tips for better communication

Adapting your language and understanding your audience is the first major step, but to become an really effective communicator you’ll need to keep an open mind.

  1. Accept that your not always right: It may seem harsh but often the creatives default mindset is often set to being in the right. Being open to seeing things from different perspectives outside of the creative world will often give you greater insight into what is truly the correct solution.
  2. Try to really understand other perspectives: The best way to understanding is to explore and learn other points of view. If you’re dealing with developers for example; learn a little programming, or at least have a overview of what it entails. This knowledge will make it easier to communicate later.
  3. Take advice: Listening to others and learning from them can lead to better understanding and greater things.
  4. Be versatile: Being multi-skilled in the current creative environment will gain trust with future clients or employees. The more you can do, the more useful you become. Being both an effective creative communicator with a knowledge of what a business truly needs will make you become an incredible asset in any future work.
  5. Be agile. Working in an agile environment aids everyone involved to understand and be part of the process from start to finish. Instead of working separately as a designer, working alongside developers, sales, etc. can make the whole team more reactive to any issues that may arise during the project.

Finally remember that whether you are a creative or a non-creative, give the other person a chance. They aren’t as different as you may think and the chances are you will both benefit from working together.