“Just make it pretty” is a phrase I hear very often at work. People think that I just click a button and boom it’s done. Old friends of mine would joke that my work supplies consist of the 64 pack of Crayola crayons (but don’t forget the sharpener!). Co-workers outside of my department would find it difficult to understand why edits or designs would take so much time. They would ask questions like “isn’t it just changing colors?” or make requests like “make it pop.” If I had a dollar for how often I read the phrase “make it pop” or “jazz it up” on an email I would be a wealthy woman. It’s unfortunate for designers to find themselves in positions where they have to explain their value or show their worth. Everyone thinks that if a template is available online or if they own a computer then they can easily become a designer overnight.
From start to finish, designers should be involved in the process of any product or any visual project. Not only for our own advantage to gain clarity of the specs of the project, but for the client as well. Designers play an important role throughout the entire process, the role of representing our users, and advocating for their needs. Our product team would not know what to build without understanding the needs of our users. We also problem solve, it’s like solving a puzzle where everything is scattered and unorganized at first, but then you begin sorting by shape, size, color, pattern.
Designers also use quantitative data to help us prioritize work, to determine the success of our designs, and to measure business impact. We collect qualitative data through user research to understand the best solution. We also use those findings to create prototypes. It allows us to test concepts with users before having to spend time coding or getting things developed. It helps us and our team understand the parameters and the constraints of the project.
Designers both graphic and UX do so much more than just “make things pretty.” A quote from GroupVisual that struck a chord with me “As designers, we quickly learn that “pretty” isn’t enough to make a product or website successful. Before anything, the product must serve a purpose, answer the right questions, and help the user accomplish what they need to without disrupting their experience.” I hope that going forward in my career I find myself in a position where I don’t have to answer that question or serve under someone who can’t appreciate the level of expertise is needed to become a designer by trade.