Show your design work early and often

Ah yes. The heroic designer who takes on the web/product/UX design project and then shuts himself off in his own creative silo only to emerge days or weeks later with the final design that will be sure to blow everyone away.

Early on in my career I thought that was the way to do it.

I thought that being the “creative genius” that keeps my work to myself until it is ready to be unveiled in its final form was the way to go.

Nonsense.

There is a much better way to do it.

Showing your work early and often to stakeholders and other team members has many advantages over the siloed designer approach.

1. Showing your work early and often Improves collaboration
When you include your stakeholders early on in your design work you can dramatically improve your collaboration. Waiting to show your work until the end when the work is all polished up limits stakeholders ability to provide input and collaborate. It is hardly collaboration when they are just approving or rejecting your design.

2. Minimizes last minute changes
What’s worse than working heads down on a project for days or weeks, only to have a ton of changes thrown your way when key stakeholders finally see it? Involving them throughout the design process whether that be via brainstorming workshops or socializing low-fidelity wireframes avoids last minute overhauls. The stakeholders have been involved along the way, so the big changes are more likely to come earlier in the process.

3. Improves the end result
When you show your work early you can actually create a better finished product. Instead of being limited to whatever solutions the siloed designer can come up with, getting feedback and ideas from other people allows you to tap into their unique experience and knowledge instead of just relying on your own.

4. Increases design velocity
Getting feedback early and often allows you to make bigger changes earlier on to your design without it taking a ton of time. Adjusting the page layout of a basic wireframe is significantly easier than changing the layout of a fully baked hi-fidelity design. The earlier the change the quicker it is to make.

5. Improves learning opportunities
Learning from others is one of the best ways to improve as a designer. Stakeholders, developers, and customer can all be valuable teachers with designs that actually set out to solve a problem or meet a need. Getting feedback on your designs early and often from stakeholders enhances your learning. Wait to show your work until the end and the feedback won’t be as useful, and you won’t be as open to learning as you were earlier on in the project.

Don’t be afraid to show your work early and often. Give it a shot and see what happens.

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