Comments on Why Aren’t You Asking Questions?

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  1. Great article, but its really worrying that something like that has to be written. I don’t really understand how you would even begin designing anything without understanding it/asking questions.

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  2. As Brendan writes above, I am struggling to think how we can start planning a design without asking questions. As if a chef is mixing a few ingredients without knowing what dish is expected, or an architect layout out a random model of walls without a model and without knowing the purpose of the building or home.

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  3. It’s good to see this article published. Through experience we have delivered a far better quality of web design to our clients by taking just as much time to develop the brief as we have working on the concepts. In some instances, we have even spent the day on-site working for a client to better understand what they do and who their customer/target audience is.

    We call it the equivalent of method acting. Getting under the skin of a client, to better understand their brand, their audience and how to sell themselves to potential new customers.

    In many ways, the best results come from open communications with a client and in some ways a collaboration too. We’re not afraid to educate clients. After all, it’s important to explain why some things will work for the web and why some won’t.

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  4. I know that everyone has commented, “How could you *not*  know this already??”, but I’m really thankful for pieces like this. I am a senior designer, but am still learning to be comfortable leading meetings and struggle speaking in front of groups (especially one made up of high-up stakeholders, yikes!).

    So, I really and truly appreciate this how-to. Your comment hit the nail on the head for me, “I think with some personality types it’s more difficult to speak up and ask for clarity - I hoping some of the tips outlined here will give some guidance and confidence to those who are not completely comfortable in this role yet.”

    Thanks for this article!

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  5. Thanks Janice - Really interesting article that struck a chord with me. I’ve probably been in a similar position more times than I care to admit.

    Unlike other comments seems to suggest it’s not a case of failing to ask questions as part of gathering requirements but more trying to tease out the end goals and develop better solutions through questioning. If you’re lacking in confidence or there’s a power divide in the room it can be difficult to question someone who seems to be in a position to have all the answers - that’s assuming you’ve managed to get the direct stakeholder there with you - many organisations will dictate strategy and requirements which you’ll receive second hand and it can almost feel pointless questioning the messenger.

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  6. This is such basic stuff when working with clients… I’m always amazed at the designers who dive head first into a project barely asking questions to their clients. I simply do not understand how you could do quality work this way…

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  7. This article is a good example of how to get user requirements. Your example of getting user goals is very similar to how agile teams get user stories. Which is fantastic.

    For too long, a lot of developers and designers are getting requirements for the sake of getting requirements. By having that mindset, it’s hard to design/build an awesome product.

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  8. This is a very refreshing article, and very poignant as its part of the reason I left my previous role.

    Design wasn’t very well respected (something i committed years to change), and I often found myself starved of client contact. In turn we had lots of client frustration as we continued to design blind as our design team worked from, internal demands, opinions and guesses of what the client wanted.

    After a stroke of luck, design was offered the chance to go through next years design requirements with the client face-to-face at there premises. It was a breath of fresh air for both of us, I think it was the first time the client thought we understood them. I would listen without interruption, note down comments and rationalize them ready to question when appropriate. Sometimes my questions would come with a new mock up as it better illustrated the point. They were excited by the barrage of questions that would come as we forged the strategy for the year ahead.

    We were finally on the same wavelength, my sadness was trying to relay this when I got back to the office. The resistance I found from my boss and project managers was staggering. Its as if they were so used to the ‘ask no questions we will give you a solution’ it became a company value, at the massive frustration of the client and miss-direction of the product.

    The worst part, one day I was at the clients office and they introduced me to one of there colleagues as the ‘acceptable face of my company’

    The ironic thing was I wasn’t doing anything miraculous, I was just finally doing what felt natural, asking questions so I could do my job!

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  9. You have to make things very clear with the person you’re developing/designing for. Often times, the customer himself does not know what he wants.

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  10. Thank you for a great article.  You’ve articulated the issues well.  As a Project Manager, I see these same challenges. Often times, the client only has a general idea of what they want. I love being the detective and helping them to discover what it is we can really do for them.  It is an exciting process to bring their web app alive!

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  11. Very good article, I have been on both sides of the equation, I have been a web designer and a web design customer. When my web design company met with me, I felt uncomfortable because they were not asking me any questions. Therefore, I refused to sign the contract that they had prepared and kept insisting that I sign. I just could not understand how someone who claims to have over a decade of experience in this field was not aware that asking questions is an integral part of this process.

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  12. A good read. Some designers don’t ask questions because they offer a blog standard product that lacks personality.

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  13. Hi Janice. Asking questions is also a responsibility of the client. Having said that sometimes the web designer may not be inclined to respond to specific client needs. A real estate website is a good example. There are many great responsive real estate website designs but when the requirement for a third party IDX feed enters the “needs” equation, it can cause a number of issue such as render blocking script. The web designer points to the IDX plugin and the plugin developer points to the website design. This catch 22 is all too common for the client. Any thoughts on how this can be fixed? An article on the specific needs of a real estate site design would be a great addition to this site

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  14. The front-end designers are always the ones that get the most of the website. They are the most criticized as well, but yet the back-end developers are the ones that have the most hard work.

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  15. Your site doesn’t contain any information. It would be better if you add some more content in the site so that people who are new to the site can understand the site details. So modify our site by including more content so that it increases its visibility

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  16. Sorry, commenting is closed on this article.