‘Eye Rolling is not a Design Skill’

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It’s not that there is a dearth of designer advice out there, it’s that most of it is – and there’s no nice way of putting this – touchy-feely rubbish.Which is why we were so pleased to come across the thorough notes that Luke Wroblewski, co-founder and CEO of Input Factory, took earlier this month at “An Event Apart” in Seattle. In particular, his notes from designer Mike Monteiro’s clever, no-nonsense talk, “What Clients Don’t Know (and Why It’s Your Fault).”

What really got us: In just a few words, Monteiro tears down many of the woe-is-me gripes designers have about their clients by demonstrating that most are rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy, and the expectation that everyone should be as well versed in design as ourselves. Below are some brilliant quotes from that talk:

  • “Don’t make people feel small because you know more than them. We hate this when we encounter it in the service industry. Design is a service industry.”
  • “You can’t put the onus of doing your job on the person who hired you to do it. Especially when they are paying you.”
  • “[Request for proposals] use checkboxes instead of relationships to determine which firms to hire. This isn’t a great process but clients do it because hiring designers is hard and confusing. An RFP is a client’s attempt to add structure and manage a process they don’t understand.”
  • “But they never ask me! If you insist on acting like a disenfranchised creative, that’s how you will be treated. Go to meetings and add value. Stop waiting for an invitation to do your job. Assert yourself. Make a case for how your contribution will help make a great product.”

And our absolute favorite: “Eye rolling is not a design skill.” Bravo.

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