This past Tuesday, Kera compadre, Dave, shared some great perspectives on how to keep engineers happy in a Lean startup. It’s worth mentioning that designers face a different kind of challenge. One that isn’t discussed nearly as often.
I wear a few hats at Kera, but I’m a designer first. As an interaction designer, the methods behind agile and lean are far from new. Proper interaction design demands a quick, iterative approach with lots of dirty experiments, no problem. But for visual designers the rules are often different.
A good visual designer craves big challenges. And designers want to create the entire solution. Ideally, every project goes out to the masses pixel-perfect and ready to live on in portfolios without the chance of future regret.
But how does a piece of visual design work go from raw idea to public release? In teams or as individuals, designers experiment all the time. However, these rapid experiments most often happen “behind the curtain” with the same teams or individuals.
So, what if a spree of lean experiments with the rest of your product team is actually the best way to test and validate those different approaches to tone, layout, colour and type. I know you have a bunch of different approaches that you’re playing with. Why not just try all the promising ones through different product iterations and measure what’s most successful. Give your idea a small audience and some room to breathe and you’ll be surprised by what you learn.
For most, this article probably isn’t enough to solve the lean creative crisis. If you’re still haunted by the spectre of mediocre creative going out to the wild, there are a few compromises that could help. A good example might be to keep your visual designs quick and messy through product iterations on the inside while flexing all of your creative muscles on smaller outside projects (marketing collateral and other expressions of the brand).
While it might be difficult, we believe delaying perfection in favour of experimentation will serve us well in the long run. Our creative will make a lot more sense to everyone as it changes organically. Great design will never be an afterthought - it will grow with our business.
Consider this: What did Twitter look like in 2009?
- Jon Friis