Communicating Design

PowerPoint and Keynote are not the first tools a designer thinks of when building a new interactive experience, but let’s face it, at some point you have to sell your design. I meet a lot of designers who think giving presentations is for the sales and marketing teams. But they are kidding themselves if they don’t realize they often are a big part of the sales and marketing effort.

Interaction design is communication – you are communicating functionality and communicating results when users interact with your design. A strong set of communication skills – written, spoken, and multimedia – are necessary to any designer who wants to get their product out of the lab and into the market.

This disconnect became very apparent to me this week in prepping for the final team presentation for my current graduate HCI course. We had finished the product but no one really stepped up to build the presentation. What? We designed a cool mobile app and now no one knows how to sell it? By the time you have reached the end of the product design cycle, you should be intimate with the target users and how your application fills their needs. All that is left is to clearly articulate that.

Working with consultancies large and small I’ve seen the really good IAs jump from Visio to PowerPoint then back into Flash and finally to email to communicate their design. This is especially true early in the process, when final decisions on form and function have not yet been made. Communications is one more set of skills to have under your belt, and mastering it will serve you and your clients well.