How to be a better designer: Part 1 - Be curious and seek understanding

Before designing anything, you want to be a detective and ask questions to understand the client, audience, and what you are trying to communicate. 

Why it matters

The more understanding you have, the better equipped you will be to meet the needs of your design’s audience and avoid confusion. 

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” - Jeffrey Zeldman

Before designing anything, you want to be a detective and ask questions to understand the client, audience, and what you are trying to communicate. 

Why it matters

The more understanding you have, the better equipped you will be to meet the needs of your design’s audience and avoid confusion. 

  • If the task is to design a website for a donut shop without any information, you must guess what you are trying to communicate, leaving the client and customers guessing too.
  • You would have a decent start If you understood that the donut store
  • Doughy Humans is the store's name
  • They serve 6 types of donuts
  • They are not open after 3 PM
  • $8.99 for half a dozen and $14.99 for dozen donuts 

❓ Asking questions

We recommend asking many questions to understand the opportunity and avoid confusion.

Questions to ask the client

  • Tell me about your business...
  • How do you handle orders?
  • What are your current challenges?
  • What types of donuts do you sell?
  • What is your business contact information?
  • What is the name of the businesses?
  • What do you want to accomplish with your website?
  • How do the said challenges affect your business and customer?
  • What makes them different from other shops?

Questions to understand the target audience

  • Who are your ideal customers?
  • What recurring questions do customers have?
  • How do customers find you?
  • What do your existing customers say about your business and service?

📝 Taking notes

We recommend taking notes as you receive answers to reference later and inform your design decisions. Use your favorite note-taking tool to record responses.

💡 Tip 1: If you don’t want to miss anything, ask permission to record the conversation to reference later.

💡Tip 2: Send the client a brief recap of your answers to confirm understanding before moving forward.

Our favorite note taking apps

  1. Notion
  2. Reflect
  3. Apple Notes


🧐 Research (*Bonus)

The more data you have, the better equipped you can be to make an informed and creative decision when design begins. Here are several ways to find more data.

Ask about their competitors

  • How do other local and global donut shops operate?
  • How does their website look, feel, and work?
  • What else do they sell besides donuts?

Interview the customer/users

  • Was the user's thought process when purchasing donuts?
  • What do they like and dislike about this donut shop or others?

Understand the topic (donuts)

Go to the library or search the internet to understand the art of donuts

  • Where and why were donuts invented?
  • What’s the process of making donuts?
  • What tools are used to make donuts?

Tell a story - put the insights into action

Below are fake insights and ideas you could use to create a better-designed website/app.

Insights / datapoints

  1. We sell donuts in person

Question to ask ourself

  • How can the website make the process simpler or automated for customers or the donut shop?

Idea(s)

  • Feature a menu with photos, ingredients, prices
  1. We take online orders through Tock and Uber Eats app

Idea  

  • Add an “Order now” button with this apps
  1. Our focus is ordering and baking, we are looking for additional revenue streams

Ideas

  • Exclusive donut of the week (limited supply)
  • Add beverages (coffee, tea)
  • Donut subscription where a dozen donuts is delivered at a frequency the customer prefers

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