Why you should talk to a designer earlier than you think

Three reasons: Constraints, goals, and actions

Designers design. You know that you should contact a designer when you need to have something designed (and when you have the budget for it). That’s common sense (well, except maybe the budget part).

The thing is:

  • Designing is problem solving. When you think about it this way, it changes your perspective on when you can contact a designer.
  • No one is born with the skill of buying design services. It can be intimidating. It’s a skill, so it needs to be learned. It requires time and money and attention and building trust. It sounds like a big deal. Well, it is. And mature designers are equipped with tools to help you become fantastic at buying design services. Know that and contact a designer when you feel you should do so but don’t know where to start.

Here are three things designers can help you with:

A white sheet of paper & constraints

A white piece of paper is probably the cheapest item that can be intimidating. You don’t even need a physical piece of paper — a white sheet of digital paper from Microsoft Word will do the job.

You may think you are in a place where you don’t have too many restrictions. You may think you can afford everything and that money does not play a role. You may think that time is irrelevant and that the most important thing is quality. You might think… a lot of things. These delusions can paralyze you, stop you, send you into hibernation, and feature you in “Groundhog Day”. However, the truth is that there are limitations in each project. Limitations that allow you to constructively fill even the most intimidating white piece of paper. In a finite amount of time. In a satisfactory manner.

Part of the designer’s job is to build constraint systems that, over time, make it easier to make further decisions and ensure coherent work results.

Think about talking to a designer if you feel uncomfortable with your white piece of paper, if you don’t want to face it alone, or when you feel like you’re starring in “Groundhog Day”. There is no reason to wait until you have something “concrete” to draw. Design begins before anyone even touches a piece of paper.

Data & goals

There are two types of people: those who collect data and those who don’t. There are two types of people who collect data: those who analyze it and those who don’t. There are two types of people who analyze data: those who do it meaningfully and those who don’t.

To meaningfully analyze data, you must have clearly defined goals. To have clearly defined goals, you must have clearly defined metrics. It’s next to impossible to improve something that you are not measuring.

Including the simplest Google Analytics tracking code in your website or application is not enough.

Goals aren’t easy, either: They must be at least SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time–bound).

A mature designer can also help you in your journey on this topic.

Roadmaps & actions

A designer most likely has a different vision of your project’s roadmap than you. Questions to answer and hypotheses to test instead of a list of the software functions? I think this different vision may interest you.

Also, an integral part of the design process is defining a design problem. Only after getting to know the problem can one explore potential solutions and measures to solve it. Designers have experience in this.

You don’t have to do this work alone, either.

If you are interested in the topics I touched upon in this short article, I recommend reading these two books: