To be a great designer, you don’t only have to walk the walk, you also need to talk the talk. I’m a product development project manager with a small New York start-up in China and I love to work with creatives from around the world. Here is my very short list of the simple things every designer should do, to make working with development a wonderful experience.
Be Professional in all your communications. I’m South Korean and work in Chinese and English. When I’m working I want to understand you meaning so be precise, concise, and thorough in all your communications. You don’t need to write like a prune, but when I read a LONG email with a lot of “you-know”s I can’t help but tap my foot and wonder if you’re taking it seriously. It demonstrates your professionalism. With experienced designers, communications are amiable but short and to the point, so my advice, to look sharp, communicate professionalism.
Detail, Detail, D-E-T-A-I-L. I love it and so should you. Detail demonstrates effort and that you care about the project. You’d think it goes without saying but… eh, mer, no. I notice a lot of effort that goes into the overall aesthetics isn’t put into Spec Sheets, BOM, and communications. I remember a part of the recent Steve Job book detailed how much effort & time he put into every detail, like the apple product ’roundy’ edge. That’s the kind of detail-oriented product design that needs to be specially noted so we can prioritize that in development. I’m not a designer, I collaborate processes to bring sketches to real-live products. If I get a sketch or CAD that leave a lot of room for interpretation, that’s what you’ll get in the end – my interpretation. So get nitty-gritty. It will save on time, sample costs, and most importantly gets us collaborating, not talking past each-other.
Be Proactive / On-top of it
Be a problem solver, engaged participant, or at the least, respond quickly to requests for feedback even if it’s a simple “got it, will send feedback tomorrow”. We’re all busy people but one thing that makes certain designers stand out to me is just general responsiveness. Especially when working remotely, this kind of character is well received. One designer I worked with had a great idea for his design. I loved it and we decided to make a prototype. But there were some design issues that required research and collaboration. That’s when things started to break down and a good relationship went bad. The designer had a great concept but when he let communications lag before responding, was difficult to get on the phone, and generally didn’t make time until several days would go by. My advice, never let anyone wait for your feedback. Send it or tell them when it’s coming. It makes a world of difference.