Designers, ask your client 'why' five times
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You may have heard the term “ask why five times”, a technique first used by Sakichi Toyoda at Toyota as part of their ‘lean manufacturing’ process.
You don’t necessarily have to do it five times, the point is to keep asking questions until you get down to the root of the problem, and explore various ways to solve that problem. Don’t just accept the first statement or request.
Clients don’t know what they need, that’s why they hired you
As a web designer, you’re a problem solver, and it’s good practice to use this technique on your clients.
Here’s a basic example:
Client: We need a blog.
Designer: Why do you need a blog?
Client: Because our competitor has a blog.
Designer: Why does your competitor have a blog?
Client: So their users have a place to go to read about company announcements.
Designer: Why do users need a place to read about company announcements?
Client: Every so often they add features, like us, and they use the blog to announce those features. We plan to do the same.
Designer: Why do you need to announce new features?
Client: So users can use the new features.
Designer: Why would users want to use the new features?
Client: They’ll enjoy the product more, which should help customer retention.
Designer: Maybe you don’t need a blog. A blog will take quite a lot of effort and money to design, develop and maintain. How about in-app notifications for new features, call-outs that highlight new features, a monthly newsletter, using a Twitter account for announcements, or use a tool like Intercom? Or maybe you don’t need new features at all, and there’s a better way to keep your customers happy?
Client: Never thought of that. Which one can we have up and running by this afternoon?
Get to the root of the problem
Constantly asking why can sound annoying, but it should lead to healthy discussion about how to best solve the underlying issue.
In the end the you may come full circle and implement the initial suggestion, but make sure you understand the root of the problem and explore all possible solutions before time and effort is wasted.
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