QUALITY for DESIGNERS -15

Post 15 -by Gautam Shah

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Designers and Quality : A designer, as a professional, strives to assure that projects are completed with planned level of inputs and provide intended benefits. Quality represents the fundamental economics of the input-output equation. The emphasis is upon maximizing the achievements, value addition and minimizing process effort, resource wastage.

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Experiment on a Bird in an Air pump > ART by Joseph Wright of Derby 1768

Quality in Design results from `what the product is‘ and `what the users do with it‘. It results from Three-way interaction between:

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Judgements for Quality : There are several Primary issues, against which quality judgements are made, like: comfort level, variety, novelty, prestige, economy, size, ergonomics, anthropometrical possibilities, other or optional uses, etc. The Secondary issues include social, cultural, psychological, political and other relevancies.

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Chichicastenango Market Guatemala showing buyer-seller meet / Wikipedia Image by Chmouel Boudjnah

Designers are quality conscious on two counts: their own conscience and the public compliance. Designers are conscious that ‘certain personal quality notions’ must be achieved, and ‘certain other public requirements’ must be complied. But consciousness does not translate as conscience, and conscience does not make for compliance.

Types of Design Clients and their Involvement : Designers deal with many types of clients, knowledgeable, curious, domineering, modest and ignorant ones. But, two distinct classes of clients profoundly affect the design process.

One, where the clients are corporate or organizational entities, with factual and detached interest in design.

Two, ‘personal-clients’ who are inquisitive, participatory and subjectively involved.

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Jere Davidson engraving a Knife > Wikipedia image by Daviddarom

Strategies for Client Management in Design-I : During the design phase ‘personal or individual clients’ (like a family), a design is a rare event, but initiates multi faceted dreams. The ever evolving dreams consist of unconnected images, friends’ suggestions and other impressionistic situations like media, magazines or real life examples. For a designer the problem occurs in perceiving a holistic image out of it, or in offering and convincing the client about a novel offering that is far more exciting. Most clients do not understand the formal language of drawings or graphical representations. During discussions they grab familiar words or terms and hang on to it. So designers have to be very careful how and what they express.

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Ceramist working on object > Pexels Free stock Photos by Regiane Tosatti

Strategies for Client Management in Design-II : Prepare a project brief for determining and stating formally, all requirements, such as: user and other ‘clients’ needs and demands, technical requirements, statutory obligations, prevailing standards, current styles, available technologies, etc. Where the client is not a user, and a product specifier is a marketing team, both of these may not offer much for design requirements, so it is left to the designer to formulate the design brief. The user-client may not understand such briefs, at least initially, so remain non-committal, or in good faith initially allow the designer to proceed.

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Design Presentation initiates for clients new process of learning and realizations > Flickr Image by Het Nieuwe Instituut

Strategies for Client Management in Design-III : As a Design gets under-way, and design presentations, in colour, 3D format, reality models, or in virtual animations, the clients ‘truly’ react to the Design. At this stage, clients due to their subjective involvement, become extra perceptive to some aspects of Design. A designer should see this as the inevitable, and be prepared for the accommodation. All re-calibrated designs face a barrage of new demands, requiring substantial to a complete rethink over the design.

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Water quality compliance testing > Wikipedia image by US NARA

Strategies for Client Management in Design-IV : A worrying aspect of Design Delivery is over or premature commitments. Both of these create liabilities of promised delivery. Right from meeting for concept design presentation to an execution stage, a designer may over explain a detail orally or in other presentations. Certain details must remain ‘open ended’, allowing scope for improvisations. A premature statement or commitment before all aspects like technical or economics feasibility have been checked, can become embracing. For example, between ‘a red floor’ and ‘bright coloured floor finish’, the commitments are very different. Individual clients are very fast learners, and designers must expect them to be super designers, by the time execution starts. With their fast learning capacity to suggest changes enlarge many-fold, and designers should take this enhanced ability as the readiness to dabble in complex issues of design.

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Quality Assurance – Coffee Barista at work > Wikipedia image by Christopher Michel

Strategies for Client Management in Design-V : As the project materializes, the clients begin to have first life size or realistic experience of the designed entity. Designers must ‘engage’ their clients by adequately answering the quarries, offering convincing explanations. Clients derive satisfaction during the project execution phase, when quarries about economic and technical nature are answered with convincing explanations with comparisons among various options.

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Client’s feedback > Flickr image by Andypiper

Strategies for Client Management in Design-VI : A project, as it is delivered to an actual occupying-user (who could be a new person, different from the assigning-executing client) the designed entity is revalued. The new person, is less bothered about how a design was evolved, but concerned about the advantage accruing out of it. This could be based on sum effects of many factors like cultural roots, aspirations, economic status, etc.

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Tour de France consumer event 2016 – Product checking > Flickr image by Lwp Kommunikacio

Post Delivery of a Project : For Design professionals stacks are very high in seeing that clients derive satisfaction both, during the design and execution phases of the project. In few instances, the design and execution phase converge, so it becomes all the more necessary to keep in touch with the clients. This can be reinforced through casual visits to the project, or inquiries of well being. For a designer interaction with the client begins through the design process and delivery of a final product, but persists as an everlasting relationship. A satisfying design process helps in most appropriate product delivery. And an appropriate product backed by constant concern creates a long-lasting relationship bringing in new projects and clients.

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 15 QUALITY for DESIGNERS  –part of the lecture series DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES

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Published by

Gautam Shah

Former adjunct faculty, Faculty of Design CEPT University, Ahmedabad and Consultant Designer

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