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How Collaboration Makes You a Better Designer

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You probably think that you participate in design collaboration every day. You complete one stage of a design, then you hand it to someone else who works on the next step. That isn’t true collaboration, though. That’s more like working at an assembly line where everyone has assigned roles.

Real collaboration involves getting together with other people and contributing to every step of the design. This process could make you a better designer.

Use ideation to develop great design concepts

Ideation gives you a chance to consider the problem you want to solve and start looking for solutions.

You can think of ideas sitting in a room by yourself. Unless you have an extremely creative mind, though, you will probably find your thoughts returning to similar processes over and over. When an approach solves one problem, your brain uses it to answer the next question. It doesn’t take long before your brain falls into a pattern. The pattern might lead to solutions, but they get tired and boring after a while.

Making ideation a part of design collaboration opens your mind to new possibilities. Instead of having a conversation with yourself, you open your mind to ideas from other people. Suddenly, you have more approaches that could lead to a solution. Just as suddenly, your go-to ideas might not seem so great anymore.

Ideation techniques that you can use during design collaboration sessions include:

  • Brainstorming—when everyone shares ideas verbally.
  • Mind mapping—when people create visual ideas and use free association to add more thoughts connected to the original idea.
  • Storyboarding—when the group makes visual storylines that show how your product might work.
  • Worst possible idea—a rather fun approach that opens creative pathways by encouraging people to come up with their worst possible concepts.

Design collaboration doesn’t have to start when you begin drawing lines. It can start when people share ideas with each other.

Design collaboration gives you insights into your product

Design collaboration projects can include people who work outside of your skillset. No matter how much talent and experience you have with UX design, you need to get other people involved to make your products successful and gather their feedback.

Perhaps you don’t include them in every step of the collaboration, but you can get a lot of insight into your designs by requesting feedback from developers, sales reps, and customer service reps. Cross-team collaboration lets you see your product from multiple perspectives. If you can think about designing projects from a sales perspective, you might discover ways to make products more appealing to consumers. If you can see your design from the perspective of people who work in customer services, you could find that it makes sense for you to include features that answer questions for puzzled users.

How to make it seamless without going back-and-forth with email feedback? Make the most of your tool’s collaboration possibilities like leaving comments in the design, sharing access to the prototype with the people you want, and applying changes in real time – even while different teams are working on the same design. And went the project is ready, send its link with all the needed specifications to the developers.

Learn to accept constructive criticism

When you work in a creative field, you can become protective of your ideas. When someone criticizes your design choices, you can feel like you’ve been attacked personally. In most cases, the other person doesn’t intend to hurt your feelings. They just want to provide feedback on design that adds to the product’s success.

The more you open yourself to criticism and outside perspectives, the easier it becomes to accept constructive feedback without feeling defensive and improve the collaboration process

How does letting your guard down make you a better designer?

Imagine that you take your latest design concept to a meeting with four other people. Someone points out that they don’t think your navigation menu will go over well with the target audience. Perhaps you’ve made a design for highly sophisticated users when you should have created one for average users.

If you don’t know how to accept criticism, you feel hurt, and you return to your desk angry. You’re not in the right mood to do good work. You could waste precious hours nurturing your ego instead of looking for smart ways to solve the problem.

This level of defensive reaction rarely happens when you participate in a lot of design collaborations. You get so used to feedback that you don’t take it personally. It’s not about you, after all. It’s about making a product that users will love.

Unlearn your creative approach during design sprints

Building habits makes it easier for creative people to accomplish their goals. A process called “habit stacking” can even help you add useful habits to your day. The more habits you stack, the more you can move from one task to the next without putting much thought into the process.

At some point, habits can become limitations, though. When you use habit stacking to make sure you doodle design ideas while having your morning coffee, you get positive results. If you develop habits that force you to approach each project from the same perspective, though, you can hurt your creativity. It’s important to notice the difference between a positive and negative habit.

Participating in a design sprint with other people can knock you out of your humdrum process. Formal design sprints often take place over the workweek. During each day, you take steps toward your goal. Setting a time limit encourages you to think with your gut, which can lead to new creative ideas that never occurred to you before. 

If a week-long design sprint doesn’t fit your schedule, you can take a faster approach. The rapid sprints help people break the habit of worrying about the quality. When you only have a 25-minute design collaboration session, you work as quickly as possible. You make a lot of mistakes, but you make a lot of discoveries, too.

Add diversity to your design team’s skills

When you work alone, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Your designs get the job done, so you never think about developing new skills that could improve your work.

Design collaboration forces people to acknowledge their limitations and learn from other people. 

For the best results, seek out other professionals who have different backgrounds from you. Adding diversity to a workplace helps everyone perform better. You don’t have to rely on your team members to grow, though. Use social media to find potential collaborators who live in other parts of the world. You can learn a lot from each other.

Collaborating can improve your performance

Getting more work done doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend extra time fine-tuning your designs. Surveys find that collaborative work results in five times better performance.

Setting up a time to collaborate takes a little effort, but the result is worth it. 

Discover new design tools

Design collaboration gives you opportunities to see how other people work. You might find that some people use design tools you’ve never heard of. That’s like a painter discovering that someone uses a completely different type of canvas!

You can share UXPin easily with collaborators because it lets people experience your prototypes and leave feedback without creating accounts. As long as they have a link to your work, they can access it.

UXPin also has a real-time collaborative environment that lets you and others work on the same project simultaneously. Sign up for a free trial with UXPin now so you can start collaborating with other designers all over the world. You don’t even need to meet, you can collaborate virtually.

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