Two Key Questions That Apply to Any Communication

As a designer with a flare for branding and messaging, “figuring it out” always boils down to two KEY questions. The cool thing is, these two questions apply to SO MUCH MORE than design.

THE KEY QUESTIONS

  1. What do we want the audience/viewer(s) to KNOW?
  2. What do we want the audience/viewer(s) to FEEL?

The first question drives at the “data points” or facts that you need to make sure you’re communicating. The answer to the second question informs how you go about presenting your idea. It’s equally important. In the design scenario, it’ll inform choices about style, color, photography, tone, grouping of information, flow, etc.

USING THESE QUESTIONS TO DRILL DOWN

These questions are useful at the “macro” (or big picture) level and also at the micro level (of which there are often multiple layers).

For example, I ask these questions about an entire website we are redesigning. Then, I ask them about a specific page on the site. Then I ask them about a specific photo, paragraph, link name, or info graphic on the site.

They are great for keeping things focused on the story that matters.

BEYOND DESIGN

Lately, I’ve started using these questions to guide everything I do. For instance, recently, I needed to have a conversation with a client about scope and budget. The client was hoping more could fit into the scope. But for various valid reasons, that wasn’t possible. For a lot of people (not just designers) the thought of presenting anything but good news (especially with respect to budget and scope) is difficult.

But using the above questions, helped the whole conversation to form around solid core ideas that made logical sense.

What did I want the client to know? The answer to this was all about specific feature / function and design work. What was hard. What was easy. What was unknown.

What did I want the client to feel? I wanted them to feel like I really cared about their wants and needs. I wanted them to feel like I put the right amount of thought in this to come up with options that could work. I wanted them to feel respected and treated fairly. I wanted them to feel trust in me and trust in my process for figuring things out. And I wanted them to feel like we can solve this together to get something that’s going to help them reach their goals.

Of course there are other questions to ask in design and in anything else. But these two, are a great core from which everything else naturally follows.

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