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Thanks for jumping in and providing such a thoughtful response.
I’m competing for the most prolific commenter award here, so let me respond in kind. lol :)
I’m sure you sense my sarcasm, but just to be clear as well, I don’t think it will become something like Fiverr or 99Designs.
It was simply a dramatic way of emphasizing how this effort looks very downmarket, cheap, off-brand and off-mission of creating products of excellence that achieve market fit and successfully serve humans.
I did indeed see the two project briefs that were there.
There was a third one previously, which is gone now, that contained some of the references you cited.
So, I’ll take the bait and allow me to bang on what is there.
::Pressing the Button:::...
Neither of the two briefs actually mean much, if anything. They’re a few sentences of product psycho-babble.
*Designer for a logo
Yes, perhaps that is more legible in terms of scope, however, then again, maybe it’s not. It sounds more like the the redefinition of a brand, and visual system to support that brand, and perhaps not just a logo. Otherwise, why not just head over to 99Designs and let the Graphic Junk Monkeys throw loads of those literal, vertical stacked hunks of pixel poo at the logo beauty pageant wall so the inmates can vote it up.
Maybe there are more details after signing up and reviewing the brief.
The briefs don’t beg inspection. I suspect the only motivation is for those moved by the budget number.
I would at least give the project owner the respect of forcing them to be clearer here or otherwise, you’re doing them a disservice.
*Designer needed for an Apple iOS app
First there is zero mention of what type of “design” is needed. We have inferred UX/ UI in this instance. Again, maybe there is more behind the wall, but nothing about the brief suggests anyone knows what the hell they’re doing.
This string of four-sentences brief has the immediate dank stank of a middle-man who has the relationship, who is making a high-profit off the work someone else is doing, for doing little.
I spot a gap in language, which red flags it - - - “re-design of an app” - - - “our current app.” I’m channeling a vision of someone with a relative, spouse or parent who is awarding this work.
Prove me wrong. It’s fishy AF.
“Need a smooth ticketing system designed”
Okie dokie, one “smooth ticketing system” coming right up. I’m ze smoothiest of smooth ticketing designers let’s geterrrr done boys. Fire up the smooth ticketing creation rigs gitttt ur hubs going, we gonna ride dis bus smooth AF.
“better account management features”
Ahh yes, yes, indeed, my crystal ball is channeling “better” at this very moment. Wait, wait, I see it. I’m pretty sure! We got it!
Damn it, the better mirage faded. I’ll find “better” sometime, promise. I think we’ll have “better” in a week or so, lemme holla atcha ya’ll.
This brief is not the talk of someone very close to a problem. This is the language of off-loading cognitive processing.
What the actual fuck does “smooth” and “better” mean in this case?
Smooth as a baby’s ass, smooth as silk, smooth sailing - Sade the midnight bus driver known as Smooth Operator, who you can follow in real-time and process e-commerce transactions with whereby you can buy Smooth Operator gear and clothing for your friends and family.
I’ll tell you what they mean, absolutely nothing, zero. Zilch, nada.
It’s a load of deflective horse-shit.
Nobody knows because it’s a load of abstract, incoherent bullshit to off-load the heavy duty thinking on designers.
Someone was too lazy to think it through and they want designers to think it through for them, for free, because they have a promise of a vetted big budget. Ohh, and designers can compete to form these requirements and might when the lottery of the big budget posted in return.
Fuck that noise.
This is perhaps a digital product of many consequences. On the user side, this (apparently, based on the tea leaves displayed) could have a lot of consequences that must be considered. Consequences that the project owner has to consider, legibly define and consequences the designer/ design team iterate against to establish further legibility.
Force the project owner to be clearer about these details or tell them and their budget to take a hike. Everyone is wasting their time.
I’m trying to understand why.
It feels like a glorified job board where the designers compete in a horse race of free work to wrap up spec (not design process, I’m talking basic requirements) around that budget figure, and project owners will be disappointed because you weren’t firm enough about gathering details up front.
Clarity: Make it or Break It
Thus, it breaks down to one thing - Clarity, lack of clarity causes conflict, misunderstandings and project breakdown.
The quest for clarity must start with the project owner, and you all, Crew as the hosts, at the very beginning of creating a digital product. You have to insist on it from the project owners, force them to write down basic requirements, describe it in practical language, guide them through it and then solicit the input and refinement of developers and designers.
We don’t know or might not have access to the business logic that we are determining. Going back to this casual lil’ $10,000 app for a bus line with sprinkles of ecommerce and ticketing. The business logic implications alone and thus, impact on the designer/ developers time to work that out on their behalf to bid against could add enormously.
Paper Chasers in Da Hizzzouse
On this note of clarity, the push for clarity filters out ‘some’ of the dumb money chasing the product game. I see a vantage point of your world that maybe you see, maybe you don’t, but regardless, many see it. I know and appreciate Crew serves a wide range of customer personas. Including some prestigious corporate customers. That’s awesome.
However, allow me to describe one significant persona that you are serving, which is the elephant in the room.
As stocks and other asset classes deliver disappointing returns, the app game, the Saas game, the digital property game has become a new asset class. There is a lot of clueless money chasing digital products in search of higher returns at the moment because they heard about a friend of a friend stacking digital product cash.
Doctors with app ideas, real estate moguls who want to shift some money into an “app idea”, rich industrial age daddies who want to “buy their kid an app” to give them something to keep them busy and earn cash flow.
I’ve seen the trail of tears behind those efforts more times than I care to count. One look at Product Hunt spews of effort everyday is Chicken Soup for the App Soul. Fun, some kids are just hacking stuff together, awesome, I love seeing it. Others are tossing out incoherent frankenstein minimum viable pieces of shit on a shingle and chasing dattttt paperrrrrr.
Product: Third Time is a Charm
Of course, some do have incredible breakouts. We live in a hits driven business, but we can do more to set project owners up for and digital product teams for success.
The commonality of the breakouts of this persona that I see. Often, they’ve had to build the product three times over. Often, they are high-up in their respective vertical world, successful as domain experts in fitness, trucking, yoga, music, advertising, sales, and so on.
The Expert’s Frankenstein Game
Often, they Frankenstein da Fuck outta their initial product development efforts, because they know everything. Everyone is too chicken-shit to tell them that bolting a bunch of crowdsourced, social, mobile, location, fucking shit and cliches together a la metaphor meets Facebook meets Uber meets Snapchat with gameification, digital currencies is not that clever, is stupid and pre-determining failure.
They tried it with a cheap team in a developing country, because it’ll be easy, right, fucking failed it. They tried it with a high-priced pro who was collecting checks and nodding their head in agreement, fucking failed. Then, if they’re lucky, they finally met someone and a team that told them no and forced them to focus on one thing, not ten fucking things.
Crew: Insist on Clarity and Create the Tools to Gain It
Again, to emphatically state, a designer should not work for free trying to read the tea leaves of someone with an idea or vague brief to form the requirements. This is where you all come in.
Absolutely insist on more coherency, specifics and definitions up front - not at the expense of the designer.
If the project owner cannot describe their product, how in the hell can we design it.
I do this with all prospects that approach.
The Product Clarity Quest
I’ll start in the with a customer in abstraction, fine.
Yaaaayyyyy we have an idea. Yeehawwww!
We’re flying kites with keys in lightening storms, climbing to the rooftops screaming innovation, we be flashing lightbulbs, Skype calling, shisha smoking, throwing glitter in the air like we don’t care, bean bag chairs, post its, sharpies, ping pong tables, sketchpads, white boarding shit, going and flowin chart, where they flows and goes nobody knowssssss.
We wax in it, we frolic about the idea in the abstraction - and it’s the top of the funnel, then we get specific as fuck. The bottom of the funnel.
I have a document (now experimenting with Dropbox paper for this one) that lights this spark.
Steal this, The Product Clarity Quest: https://paper.dropbox.com/doc/The-Big-Idea-AFzZXszaND4HAZWhvuqJE
Overall Project Estimation Process
If the prospect is willing to do some work and take the quest, I’m willing to assist in gathering requirements, but it is on them - not me.
Describing your idea is not “the design process” as far as I’m concerned. It’s just - having an idea.
Product Clarity Quest - should this product even exist, why. They have to come to that conclusion - not me. I don’t have to live with this baby, they do. It’s their money. Does the product idea solve pain, entertain and delight to the point where humans at a significant level of impact or scale will pay attention, invest their time and maybe give up their money? How close are they to the problem? Are they another LeanStartup Survey Monkey or are they right next to the problem and human we’re serving - Great - move to step two.
Requirements - this goes in Google Sheets. The customer, not me, has to be able to think through what screens may be needed to capture their idea and what they expect to happen. Yes, yes, I know there will be more, things forgotten, but - they/ someone on their end, will likely have to support the product with all kinds of business logic and logistics. This document forms the basis of our understandings and binds us in a contract. “This is what we agreed on.” - We can see its revision history, have some latitude with changes and have a finite end point.
Reacting and Estimating
My Time: Maybe an hour at most. Why, the request has clarity and we have agreed on scope.
Trello Board & Gantt Chart - shout out to Elegant, their Trello plugin for generating gantt charts is dope. A plan, what a concept. We take the requirements, we onboard them in my system for Trello, we are then able to legibly draft a time and cost estimate against these deliverables - because we can see them. - The prospect gains a better idea of “what” they are getting, how we arrived at the timelines and cost. If they agree to the proposal, we are ready to go. They’re already in the system. This also gives “finite” dates and consequences so the project doesn’t languish as the never ending project.
Sent to Prospect
Proposal email with a brief introduction. A link to a proposal “Quick Start Guide” - a one pager with links to - High Level Proposal, Requirements in Google Sheets so we know what we’re agreeing on, Trello project board with timelines so they can dig into the details, and next steps defined with links to a contract to sign against the requirements once they are locked. Finally, an invoice is generated against the contract, which once paid, work will commence.
The Design Process
So, indeed, everyone has their “process” their secret sauce, their recipes for design. Like I said, I just do not see how this particularly process prepares all parties for success and I don’t equate being able to vet and articulate a product/ business idea as “the design process” - that happens first.
You will be surprised
So, if you decided to hop abroad the Ramble Railroad with me, you will be surprised. I actually REALLY LOVE your company. I’ve never worked with you all, but know people that have - and have heard great things.
Further, I’ve been admiring your marketing from a distance.
Don’t believe me, here’s proof - I was citing your marketing as inspiration here in a private community:
I love what you’re doing with marketing, I see it. I just don't get this one.
That is - of course - longer, more than you expect. That’s how I roll.
Also, probably not what you expect - my time investment here - on this - is minimal. It rolls out.
Peace my friend,
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