At Cooper, we have long stressed that designers should have a seat at the product development table, along with business people and technologists. Each member of this triad brings unique insights to product development: business people assess what is viable in the market, technologists address what is technologically feasible, and designers focus on making products that are useful and desirable to users:
Over the years, client organizations have taken this advice to heart, with more and more forming user experience teams that focus on assessing and meeting user needs. However, just having a seat at the table is not enough. As designers, we can help shape and facilitate the overall conversation.
To bring designs to fruition, designers need to collaborate effectively. While technologists and business executives value design, they often sense that design decisions are subjective and arbitrary. To get buy-in, designers need to help their partners understand design rationale and decision-making. Through collaboration and communication, designers can ensure that all team members have a shared understanding of the stakeholder objectives, the user needs, and the intent of the design.
Cooper now offers “Design collaboration & communication,” a course that sets the stage for collaborating on design and communicating design decisions. In two days students learn how to involve others throughout the design process, so that the design vision is agreed upon each step of the way. Communicating design throughout the process reduces the likelihood of other team members misinterpreting or altering the design during development.
The course covers the following topics:
- Designing workshops to conduct with stakeholders to ensure a shared product vision
- Choosing appropriate research methods
- Involving others in research synthesis
- Prioritizing what should be built based on business objectives, technical constraints, and user needs
- Articulating the value and benefit of design decisions
- Defending design without becoming defensive
- Determining the right level of documentation for your development process
- Moving the discussion from features and functionality to user goals and business goals
Whether you follow a traditional waterfall model or an agile development process, the communication and collaboration techniques in this course can help you gain buy-in for your design decisions.
This course provides great techniques for designers who want to create buy-in and build credibility within their organizations. The course is also great for cross-disciplinary teams of designers, product managers, and developers who want to communicate more effectively.
Our next public offering of this new course is July 25 & 26, 2011 in our San Francisco studio. A Cooper designer can also deliver the course at your office, and the content can be tailored to fit your particular needs around design planning and collaboration.