You're sitting in front of your computer.
You did user testing. The points of confusion are so obvious.
You research. You ideate.
One 'aha!' after another, you feel like freakin' Jony Ive designing the first iPhone.
The design. So simple. So elegant. .
It's 2PM. Time to meet your product manager.
You open your laptop to show your latest breakthrough. You sit back and say, "Before I walk you through my changes, I'll let you have a look at it first." You lean back in your chair, and wait for the praise to come rushing out like froyo from a machine with a stuck lever.
Instead, your PM is squinting at the screen. "Am I supposed to click here first?"
The folds in her forehead start to become prune-like.
It was the most agonizing 5 minutes ever.
What went wrong?
20 Minutes Later
"I really like where you're going with this."
Of course, now I'm feeling smug.
For many junior designers, this situation is extremely common. (And I'd venture to guess that even the most seasoned design and product professionals experience the same situations, from time to time.)
Seasoned designers learn to deal with these situations throughout their career. It is during these times that designers show their maturity and potential.
People don't get your design because you may be acting like a less experienced designer. Often, Inexperienced designers focus on being right for the wrong reasons. They have egos. Their emotional investment in a design is proportional to the amount of time they spent on it (and how smart they think they are). They care about being right because they are insecure.
Experienced designers focus on proper communication. Experienced designers don't care about being right - they care about getting to the right answer. Big difference.
And in order to get the right answer, they use any and all opportunities to discover the blind spots in their work. And here lies the difference in the mental models of junior and senior designers.
Let's return for a second to the topic of this post. "Why don't people 'get' my design?"
For the junior designer, the answer to this question is simple. It's not me, it's you.
For the senior designer, the starting point is, "It's not you. It's me."
Designing a web application's UX/UI is always a beast.
When you're designing websites, you should start with the content.
When you're designing for web apps, the content is often data or the result of data analysis. Even a small snippet of data that is unaccounted for, can be enough to sink a UI.
On a recent project involving the design of an optimization feature, there are multiple moving pieces. You have data scientists, developers, product managers, and of course me, the UX/UI designer.
During an agile sprint, the designer is prototyping, wireframing, etc. The data scientists are constantly changing and tweaking the algorithm. The product manager is doing a million things. After several weeks, the UI was coming to a close.
And of course, there was a variable that we did not account for. The engineers hadn't gotten to the part where they were working with the API for that data, so no one talked about it that frequently. Of course, it's never just one piece of data.
It was the most complicated piece of data, stretching the limits of the current UI, to the point of breaking it.
Of course, there wasn't much to worry about. You just have to go back to the drawing board, add another constraint, and come up with an even better solution.
Don't forget. Content first. Data first.