Design Collaboration & Communication: a student’s perspective

As a first time student at Cooper U, I was wowed by Cooper’s Design Collaboration & Communication workshop. I was able to dive back into the product development process and carefully examine how the way teams communicate directly informs what kind of experience is created. Here are highlights of what I’ll be using for my projects going forward.

Lesson 1: Meetings Don’t Have to Suck

I have been through the grinder with teams of very capable, intelligent people. Sometimes, we ended up feeling confused, shot down, angry, and stuck even though all the elements of productivity seem to be right in front of us. So, what went wrong? In Cooper U’s Design Collaboration and Communication session, we learned that these issues usually are not solved just by changing the meeting stakeholders or the design. The challenges are often in making ideas heard and effectively receiving information from others – the fundamentals of communication. Our teachers, Kendra Shimmell and Stefan Klocek taught us how to deal with conflict, stop communication gaps, and eliminate misunderstandings in tangible, useful ways.

Lesson 2: Never Ask “So, What Do You Think?”

Feedback can easily become a haphazard free-for-all about every aspect of the work. Here are a few strategies out of this tangential abyss:
• Keep feedback on user flow and visual language separate. Asking people to think about both at the same time is cognitively difficult and reduces the overall quality of their feedback.
• Make sure your team knows the questions you would like answered from the start. Sounds simple, but that’s often not often specifically clarified.
• Keep user/interaction flows conceptual and sketch-like to focus stakeholders on these elements and minimize the distraction of visually-rich examples.
• When visual elements are in review, start with parts and pieces like the buttons, color palette, and icons, as individual elements focus stakeholders attention on details like color, mood, and shape.

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