Working with others that aren’t designers can be tough. We have preferred ways of creating results that we have to explain, test and revise. I’ve written about challenges with communicating our design work, and how designing is only a part of what’s needed to make it in business. This week I'm writing up a specific example of both.
A struggle I often hear is frustration about selling clients on design theories like Mobile First. This is from a client services perspective, although in-house designers often face similar challenges. While I think I understand what they are struggling to accomplish, there are better ways to look at this that would be more successful. Allow me to elaborate.
To me, this frustration is a deeper issue than simply convincing someone why using a method may benefit the project. I think the challenge with selling theories to clients comes in the mentality. If you think you should charge based on value, then that’s what you sell. You sell design. You sell results. You don’t confuse your customers with what your industry may call a certain process. Nor do you want to make them think they are paying extra for you to do your job. That’s what you do - you design and you happen to use mobile first theory to focus design decisions.
Despite your intent, the often client thinks you're just asking for more money to do work in an unnecessary way. They see it as outside scope of their project. They may view it like a pet project and/or feel like a test subject. Present solutions in a way that embeds them into their experience with you. Consider how it feels to extend a timeline and budget. Now consider the alternative of one price, one timeline, and the results that they can expect.
Honestly, I wonder how or why an agency or team is selling “mobile first” at all. If you are having a hard time getting your clients to understand why they should to pay you to design this way, consider a few things.
- Mobile First is more of a priority discussion than anything. Build that into your process. If you believe this is the best way to solve design problems then you should be using it on all of your clients anyway.
- If you cannot convince clients to use your process - whatever it is - then you’re not selling anything.
- What are your clients actually hiring you for? What do they think they are hiring you for?
My advice is to stop trying to convince clients on theories and design techniques. They don’t care, and they shouldn't have to. Align your priorities and results with their goals. Cultivate a trusting relationship.
Jared Spool has some sound advice on convincing executives to invest in UX. I think that some of the same principles apply here. If we do our jobs right, clients come to us with the intent of investing in our services. If you need to convince with more, you’re likely to waste your time.
If you feel the need to explain methods to a client often, consider if they are hiring you for the right product or service. Your clients should come to you to hire you for what you know is right for them.