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Understand. Solve. Create.

Published on Nov 18, 2015

How to make sure your stakeholders love your design.


Understand. Solve. Create.

how to make sure stakeholders love your design

They're gonna love this!

How may times have your team gotten a brief. Done a shit load of work in a short amount of time. You were so excited to show it to the stakeholder. “They’re gonna love how much work I put into this!” “They’ll Love this as much as me!” and then had them: Make a series of recommendations and churn because they say it’s not really what they want. But you know it because “they love to tear things apart” and because “They’re not designers, they don’t get it.”
Photo by Patrick Ryan

Make sure they love it

Solve their problem. Involve them in the process.
Well you can make sure they love it. Solve their Problem. Involve them in the process.
Photo by Ableimages

Design Is Problem solving

but, do you know what you are solving?
Photo by Old Sarge

The Brief

don't be mad because the client didn't do your job for you. 
A brief is just that. A Brief description of what the project is. It’s a starting point for all your questions. If a brief seems lacking it’s because the client didn’t know exactly what you need to know to fully understand the problem. Don’t run forward with assumptions without clarifying. Don’t be mad because the client didn’t do your job for you.
Photo by --Filippo--


Before you can solve a problem you need to know what the problem is.
Photo by @Doug88888

Understand - Ask

  • Ask All the questions you can think of
  • Ask questions differently if you don't get a good answer
  • All answers should lead to "Why"
- Ask All the questions you can think of
- Ask questions differently if you don't get a good answer
- All answers should lead to "Why"
Photo by stina jonsson

Understand - Involve Stakeholders

  • Ask if they already have ideas
  • Ask for relevant documents
  • More questions will come up later
Ask if they already have ideas. They've been working on this already so they most likely have ideas. Usually you can glean more information about "why" from these ideas.

Ask for relevant documents

Let them know that either them or you will find that more questions will come up later.

Photo by Image Source

Understand - Analytics

  • How are people currently using the product/page
  • Drop off points
  • Are they completing the expected action
How people are currently using the product/site/page/section will be invaluable in guiding you towards the goals you want to accomplish. Also, data takes opinion off the table. Now you are reporting facts and not giving what could be construed as opinion.
Photo by yukop

Understand - Customer voice

  • Emails from customers
  • Feedback forms
  • Surveys, Interviews, Call or visit them
Customer quotes about the way something currently works can be very powerful. And again it takes opinion (yours and stakeholders) out of the picture and gives you something to focus on.
Photo by tim caynes

Understand - More than asked

  • Look outside the pages you're designing
  • How will they be found - DMs, Navigation, Google
  • Do these referrers match the message
Nothing lives in a bubble and changing one part of a process can affect the rest. Make sure you understand how the project can affect everything.

Understand - Content Audit

  • What is the most common/repeated content
  • How can you consolidate the message
  • What needs to stay/go or be rewritten
All pages are simply content. You need to know what's there so you can know what to keep and what to toss. What's working and what needs help.
Photo by edgarmarca

Initial Presentation

Don't keep your findings to yourself. Educating your stakeholders about how their project currently works will lead to better alignment on what the project actually is.
Photo by tim caynes

Initial Presentation

  • What are main points the team will focus on?
  • Share an idea or two
  • How will life be better if the focus points are followed
  • Enough information to get the picture across
If you share ideas at this point make sure they are simply stated in words no wires, sketches or flats. We are simply taking about the ideas and concept of the project. No solutions yet.
Photo by Will Montague


Design isn't just the way it looks. It's the way it functions. The way it makes the user feel. The way it interacts with other technologies. It all has to be designed.
Photo by Nina Stawski


  • Sketches, wireframes, user stories, visual design
  • Nothing is final in design
  • You've discovered what to focus on. Get to it.
  • Involve everyone - Visual, UX, Content, Devs ... The whole team
The whole team should be designing.

Solutions Presentations

Yep. Two times.

Solution Presentation One

  • Wireframes to show solutions, not the final product.
  • Share Page Flows and User Types you've identified
  • Enough information to get the whole concept across
  • How do these designs solve the problems identified during discovery
  • Is everyone aligned in one direction?
Presentation one is how you solved the problems you identified in the discovery phase. How the pages will interact, who the different users are. It's enough information to get the concept across but not the final solution.

Make sure everyone is ready to move forward in one direction.

Solutions Presentation two

  • Most boring part of the design process
  • No big reveals or surprises
  • Visual Design Flats with/out final copy
  • Prototypes to show interactions
  • Any changes now will be just tweaks
Now you've finalized everything. You may get some feedback now but everything should be pretty minor.

Any problems should be able to be solved by revisiting the goals of the project and making sure everyone is still on board.
Photo by Jupiterimages


Now we're in production. We're good at this.
Make that shit yo.


  • Get in there and put it all together
  • Keep showing progress to stakeholders
  • It's way easier to improvise now


Everyone's happy!
Joy and parties and congratulatory back slaps.

Two things to make a stakeholder happy

Can you remember them?
Can you remember the two big things that allow you to make sure your stakeholders love your design?
Photo by Jilligan86

1) Solve their problem

Solve their problem.
Photo by Jilligan86

2) Involve them in the solution

Involve them in the solution.
Photo by Jilligan86

Three things

The whole process ... remember? 
These three steps are the framework for ensuring stakeholder love. (Hint: It's the title of the presentation.)
Photo by Jilligan86

Understand. Solve. Create.

Discover. Design. Deliver.
Photo by Jilligan86

thank you

Photo by Neal.