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."