Designers inherent taste

We’ve all heard the saying that everyone has an opinion. Everyone has their own distinct taste. But, I ask this, how does a properly trainined designer express to other people involved in the development process (marketing, engineering, micro-managing owner, etc) that your background should make your opinion on styling hold a little more weight?

That said, I’ve seen some designers just not have that “eye.” The simple knack to make nearly everything look good. I think it’s just some raw talent, but it’s hard to quantify.

I’m running in to this problem right now and am trying to find the proper words to express the fact that I firmly believe I can make a better product by having more say. It’s not being cocky, it’s being confident.

Let me guess. Your Marketing Manager shops at Banana Republic, so that means he knows Design and should be the Creative Director?

yeah, IP nailed it. of course, we all know that the main focus of marketing school is design!! ha ha Ever noticed how marketing managers always know what’s trendy…2 years ago!!!

It’s easy. However, it all depends on the situation, the design, who your explaining it to, etc.

Some examples that have been relevant to me in the past;
The design reflects another famous/successful design/designer, along those same lines, you can bring an artist, art movement, or style into the equation. It doesn’t need to be a carbon copy of another by any means, and it shouldn’t be, but those curves on your sketch pad have been created before by another human hand at one point. Find a link, even if it be a thin spider web.
Simply verbalize your education, knowledge, and training in the area of styling, through descriptive artistic terms you’ve learned. Balance, composition, the golden ratio, visual weight, contrast, s3xy lines, passive lines, active lines, complimentary colors, the list is nearly endless.

There’s no direct way to answer this question. However, if you believe in your design, and your design is worth defending, you should be able to easily persuade it with passionate drive, skills, and knowledge.

we’ve all been there, or will be.

I’m not sure if it’s motivated by arrogance entirely or the fact that Marketing isn’t always an exact science and they just get in the habit of second guessing everything or just going with their gut.

having a thorough and well documented design process that’s posted up - showing how research got churned through the marketing/engineering requirements into what’s in front of them helps alot.

Nothing will stop those who just want to be bullys,

what i see alot is people feeling like they need to put their scent on things before they can approve it.

it may be arrogance, or a crooked way to their own self-validation, but it’s odd in any case… i think sometimes those guys in those positions really don’t understand how transparent they are being. oh well…

It took two major failures and a one on one personal discussion with the CEO before I was able to fix this kind of situation. If this person is above you on the food chain, you’re screwed unless you do this.

Don’t fight it directly. Do everything you can to redirect conversations to the end user and NOT about personal preference. Try and make sure you have an agreed upon design brief that is written either by Marketing, or at the very least WITH Marketing. Signed and agreed to.

There is a great quote in the recent article about Ex-Apple designers:

“Great design comes from dictators, not democracies,” says Ratzlaff, who managed Apple’s Human Interface Group in the 1990s and who now works as Director of User-Centered Design for Cisco. “Democracy works well for running a country and choosing a prom queen. The best product designs, however, come from someone with a singular strong vision and the fortitude to fend off everything and everyone that would compromise it.” In other words, success can often come down to instinct and taste—bad news for those after a more tangible, quantitative, metrics-driven approach.

If you believe this, your Marketing person is the dictator in this case. Another option is to give them a lot of rope…who knows, maybe they’ll hang themselves with it.

I agree with a lot of the comments so far. I think we all try to be well versed in marketing and engineering languages, but in general, those two functions do little to be well versed in ours and think most design decisions are a matter of preference.

When i have been in this spot in the past I would attempt to explain how it is not a matter of my personal preference and break down some design 101 philosophy and history on them so they can see the process that lead to my recommendation. I get as specific as possible siting other products that have disrupted the norm in this zone in the past, what is going on in all of the facets of this consumer’s life, show an evolution of this market segment over the past 10-20 years and why this design fits is where we think things are going to be, and try my best to influence them to believe that designers are the most credible voice in the room when it comes to design decisions, we hold degrees for it and we are paid for that ability… not to be a human pencil for other people.

It doesn’t always work, in the end some people are open, and others are not. Working with a great marketing and development team is key to getting anything done and they make al the difference when it comes time to evangelize the product into the marketplace. I’ve been lucky and have worked with some great teams.

A friend of mine at another company threw his business card on the table and asked the marketing director to read the title under his name… that didn’t work very well though.

I have seen some managers do a really good job at this. They rigourously analyze all the functional reasons an aesthetic concept works or not. That way you can eliminate all the non-functional duds. Then for the marketing types you bring in examples of why something that is aesthetically similar to your work is successful. Or even show how aesthetic differences can win the day. Examples are much easier to relate to.

Marketing people like facts and figures and generally what happened two years ago.

Showing them how the new work relates to the previous products, establishing a common thread, a signature element, etc. can alleviate some pain. Otherwise tell them it’s been approved by 56.2% of buyers in the demographic - find some numbers to support your argument.

For larger and more successful firms, they get away with something like no-spec wrote, which is that the design goals are baked into the contractual requirements document early in the process. The process is agreed upon and from there it’s should be solely the designers job to interpret the requirements in a good way.

Hey MB…how would that same manager get Marketing to attempt something different? As in, if everyone in the catagory is making it black, give it color, etc.

I fully agree that it is a small step process. Build confidence and then eventually move to something more ballsy. But there’s a point where following trends, and using examples, does nothing but promote exactly the same product over and over again.