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Do You Have a Voice for Design?

No, we don’t mean voice design, or voice user interfaces or virtual assistants like Alexa and Cortana. The question is whether as a designer you have the innate ability to converse with your customer, whether you can communicate your design principles to them and if there is a corresponding “listening” taking place. 

It is very important that the RIGHT VOICE for DESIGN reverberates through an organization, the business managers, the teams, the developers and the leadership. Simply put, the design ethos should seep into every nook and corner of the enterprise in order to conduct a great conversation in the business context. Don’t mistake this with speech recognition technology, conversation design or voice of the customer that you may have learnt in the best UX courses in Bangalore or or one of the user experience design courses in India.

Let us break that up further for better understanding:

  • Voice for Design is the ability to articulate what you envision at the workplace level. 
  • At a more individual level, it is the knack of communicating what fires you up –the inspiration behind your actions, or how you recognize your calling. 
  • At a wider organisational level, voice for design is nothing but the mindset, processes and skills that let design occupy center-stage.

Says Shayak Sen, Head of Design, Meesho: “When we talk of conscious choices, a large organization with a ‘macho’ design function will have a better listening ecosystem. You go there to learn how the other functions respect and listen to design. If you are going to a start-up, a good leadership is where the direction for design comes from.”

Design Maturity in Organizations: Organizations which have the right voice for design and are true listeners are at the top of the design maturity level. They use both technology and design to redefine the standards of customer experience and business process excellence. Design is core to business strategy in such places, impacting the most elusive business benefit of all – design IP and valuation.

Sen uses the housing industry as an example.”The reason why housing designers have succeeded in creating great impact is due to the confidence of the voice they created, this allowed them to have meaningful conversations in the business context. That is extremely powerful. For young designers it is very important to learn from a great design function like this.”

Industries which are design mature exhibit proven impact in several areas clearly demonstrated in a 2018 study by inVision:

Source: The New Design Frontier/inVision

Find the Right Stage: Finding the right company to work for is part of giving voice to your own design aspirations. With all the ready-made project management models, the mindset theories and tools and techniques that are taught across many a  UI UX design course, it is actually quite easy to lose your design voice. It is easy to lose that spark of creativity. So avoid the risk of seeking functionality over personality, though it is now believed that “good design is usability.” Yes usability has its virtues, just make sure there is some heart in the design too. For it is the signature that stands out, not the formula.

How do you ensure your voice for design rings loud and clear. Here is a short checklist:

  1. Practice everyday
  2. Create a unique portfolio
  3. Evolve a design style of your own
  4. Recreate-Yourself and your work

 Enterprises Should ‘Listen’ to Design
Head of Design, Meesho, Shayak Sen