Failure to Express Impact

November 4, 2019
1 min read

Over three years ago, I worked with a client that didn't understand design. I questioned what value I brought. The client increased development staffing year over year but kept design headcount at a constant, frugal pace. The demand for design work was needed, and the client was pleased with our outcomes, yet they didn't add headcount.

Design didn't demonstrate impact. Designers continued to talk about design in a way stakeholders didn't understand, not on purpose but with immaturity to this concept. We were in a corner by ourselves, wondering why people didn't care what we had to say.

Design impact is hard to quantify, especially with clients with low UX maturity and doesn't understand what metrics to make their decisions. Designers need to build influence and trust with the client, to move mountains together. To know what the business cares about, put on your capitalism hat.

Before you start mapping design goals to the client's goals and their users, think about your purpose and motivations. Transforming the culture and minds of a long-established corporation requires patience, active listening, and collaboration.

Designers must prove their worth for the rest of their lives. This comes with a lifetime of judgment and continuous improvement. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.


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