Validating Your Visual Design Decisions

Increase fidelity earlier in your process.

Moving toward higher fidelity earlier helps you expose your visual design decisions sooner. This enables you to start making all those extremely valuable micro-improvements earlier. And with each iteration, you can become more confident in the strength of your designs.

Of course, there can be tradeoffs. Maybe your stakeholders associate visual design with done designs. Or maybe you find it challenging to develop a design system while validating features. But I’m confident that the extra work will produce better results for you. Jake Knapp does too, as he explains in day 4 of his google sprint. A realistic prototype simply helps your users react naturally.

I’d recommend taking a firm stance on visual design as early as your first round of user testing.

Prioritize the riskier UI and test them in a task based scenario.

Decide which UI decisions you’ve made that follow modern standards and push those off to the side. Those are probably fine for now.

The less common or more adventurous UI is more important right now. Maybe you found a cool way to hover drag and drop on a particular element. Or maybe another element is beautifully minimal but un-discoverable. Make sure you include these less common elements into your next round of testing.

Test with a task based scenario — incorporate multiple versions of the same flow, and work in different visual treatments. The goal here is to find what UI elements are more intuitive than others. What makes them more intuitive? Use those learnings to guide your next visual design decisions. And if you’re looking to try a new synthesis model for your learnings take a look at how I use Trello.

Narrow down what you want feedback on and get qualified eyes on it.

Lastly, get help from the most reliable source. Show your concepts to other designers and engineers! And frame the feedback toward what you’re looking for. At Pivotal we have weekly design critiques where designers are very specific about the type of feedback they need. If you’re unfamiliar with design critiques

Eric Cipra wrote a great article about different formats. I’m always surprised by how many new ideas you can get from fresh eyes on your work.

This post was originally featured on Medium.