The Biggest Obstacle for Designers is Their Manager

by on 12/15/10 at 9:19 pm

As designers, our jobs aren’t as easy as most think. On top of designing, we have to deal with the everyday stresses of the Organization. According to the survey Why Designers Fail: The Report, the number one obstacle designers face isn’t a lack of skill or training It’s the issues of the Organization.

Out of 389 surveyors, the issue of “People in non-design roles making design decisions” and “Managers making design decisions w/o design training” were the top two issues ranked as the most significant contributors to design failure.

Before you assume that these survey results are one-sided, note that this survey included non-designers as well. In fact, “49% of those surveyed identified as playing a lead or management role.” There was a general consensus in how everyone viewed the causes of design failure.

The results of this survey confirm that when it comes to making design decisions, the managers in charge should seek consensus among designers before making the final decision. Designers can offer managers valuable insight, as long as they ask questions and listen.

Asking questions and listening are the two most important qualities a manager needs to succeed in working with designers. When managers start to do this, they’ll not only find that things get easier for them, but the decisions they make will bring out the best in their designers. Based on your experience, what do you think the number one obstacle for designers are? What can we do to overcome that obstacle?


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Elegant Themes

Author and editor-in-chief of UX Movement. Finds beauty in clear, efficient design and loves fighting for users.

3 Responses to “The Biggest Obstacle for Designers is Their Manager”

  1. Josiah Sprague

    Dec 19th, 2010

    “Peo­ple in non-design roles mak­ing design decisions” is one of my biggest pet-peeves. That is why I feel that it is important for the success of a designer to learn how to be confident and assertive.

  2. Andrew

    Jan 9th, 2011

    It is not really any different on the development side. Managers make development designs. Even worse, sometimes clients or sales people make development designs. Often developers have to make design decisions. Sometimes these things happen due to ignorance, often though I have seen such things happen due to politics. This is all too common and really the worse reason.

    Yes, it would be nice if every stuck to their own area; but in a very small organization some people have to wear different hats. That said, we ALL need to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses and stay as close to our strengths as we can.

  3. Karen

    Jan 12th, 2011

    Its can be an extreme frustration to have those in charge who have no knowledge of the visual content and how it effects the end-users or the sales of the products in charge of the look and feel. I have seen one level of management cancel out the one before because of pure subjective reason leaving me never knowing what the end look would be.

    There is no way to get around that this is a huge problem.
    Bottom line is to educate those in charge the best you can.
    When I do an audit on a design before I redesign I will write out exactly what I will be looking for and what my standards are etc.
    If they didn’t see an issue and figure you will just have to sign off on it, it can be very jarring to them when you send an extensive report on issues and provide various options in correcting the issue. You will get no advances with complaining, just complying or arguing. I have often done two mock ups one to walk them through various scenarios to show failing points.
    A second again to walk them through and give them the in-depth explanations.

    Its by and large a new awareness for many.

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