Ask DN: How to improve communication skills

6 years ago from , UX Designer/Developer

Hey everyone!

I am looking for web design and development work and got really great feedback during an interview I had yesterday. Basically, my portfolio and design sense is great, but I need to work on communicating my thought-process on design decisions.

I already knew this, but didn't know how to express it (See? Communicating!). My interviewers suggested I work for agencies or big teams to see how others process opinions and decisions in a concise way. I figure finding clients would help (and I'm attempting that as well).

Anyone have tips/tricks of the trade?


  • Miguel Solorio, 6 years ago

    Whenever I am about to deliver a design concept to a client, I always ask myself, "Does my explanation have enough information to convey the message? If someone read this with fresh eyes, would they understand the concept". And that question has helped me better explain/market/sell my concept to the client. It's kinda like pitching your work like Don Draper would. The more you talk about your research, your reasonings for doing x, y, z, then the more someone can better follow your thought process. Hope that helps!

    2 points
  • Matthew Morek, 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

    I have a tip for you: set the right expectations up front. What I mean is "don't promise what you can't give". If your process is agile, don't give your clients an impression it's as straight as an arrow.

    As for communicating your thought process on design decisions, you have to present your work in the right way. Sending off mockups and asking "what do you think?" will set you up for a failure.

    Actually, some time ago I wrote a handy piece on what you might just be looking for: http://matthewmorek.com/blog/the-user-experience-of-client-relationships. Let me know if it's of any use to you.

    2 points
    • ポール ウェッブポール ウェッブ, 6 years ago

      Thanks, I'll check out the link. In regards to your initial paragraph though, they were looking for someone to supplement their team. However, in between the time I applied and had the interview, their main designer left to pursue personal projects so they needed someone of his skill set immediately.

      0 points
  • Ryan Hicks, 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

    They didn't hire you because of that? HAH wow... those skills are teachable and certainly shows that may not be the place you want to work for anyways. It's not something you just learn or read about. It's something you learn from experience, and for them to knock you for that is a little weird.

    I'm not very good at communicating my thought process, but that's never held me back from getting a job. I'm ok, but certainly not that great. Once thing I can't emphasize enough is to ALWAYS have rationale behind your decision for everything. If you sit down and question WHY you are designing something a certain way. Whether it's based on research or best practices. you'll not only make yourself a better designer but you'll also have a reason to back up your arguments when presenting to clients and higher ups.

    1 point
  • Account deleted 6 years ago

    Others have already explained how to communicate your design decisions more clearly.

    But if you’re looking for a general way to improve your communication skills, find some local design/developer meetups and offer to give a talk or presentation for their event.

    You’ll make a lot of mistakes giving a talk to a large audience in the beginning, and they will have questions you’ll find difficult to answer. But you’ll get better and it will you communicate better with actual clients and colleagues.

    1 point
  • Laurie CaiLaurie Cai, 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

    Hi Paul, I also had difficulty with explaining design decisions. It seemed like most of them were made based solely on intuition and whether the result looked pretty. Here's a helpful link: http://www.lealea.net/blog/comments/can-you-justify-design-decisions/

    1 point
  • ポール ウェッブ, 6 years ago

    Also, in case anyone in Boston has the skills I'm lacking, check out Upstatement. That was where I got the great feedback and the people there are super awesome.

    1 point