Do most interaction designers also delivergraphicaldesign

12 May 2005 - 3:17pm
11 years ago
1 reply
382 reads
Peter Boersma

David wrote: (I missed the original, but here's how Billi Mandel quoted him)
> > My point here is that a single wholistic (hate the term
> generalist) designer will
> > probably be better about communicating their ideas with more detail.

Last month I wrote this about generalists and specialist:

"[...]At EzGov we are specialists, not generalists. Now, is this a problem?

The client may see this as a problem: If he hires 4 UX team members he needs
to first understand the specialisms and then decide what to ask from whom.
Also, with more specialists more handover activities are required,
introducing room for error and delays. Finally, instead of the exact 4
members for 6 months he might see 6, 7 or 8 people walk in and out of the
project, each requiring some degree of ramping up and assistance in e.g.
getting to know the people, getting access to project documents or even
getting access to the building.

Of course we will reply with the argument that the people will be there only
when they are needed improving their efficiency, and of course he is getting
trained specialists, drastically improving the quality of the work. Also,
since we are used to working together as a team, our handovers will be

If a single person needs to communicate a design done by several specialists
then yes, a generalist may be the one to choose for the presentation.
Otherwise, let I'd specialists present their own ideas.

Peter Boersma |UX Practitioner & Big Information Architect
Koggestraat 10A | 1012 TA | Amsterdam | The Netherlands
p:+31-20-6245641 | m:+31-6-15072747 | skype:peterboersma
mailto:peter at |


13 May 2005 - 12:34pm
Lada Gorlenko

PB> If a single person needs to communicate a design done by several specialists
PB> then yes, a generalist may be the one to choose for the presentation.
PB> Otherwise, let I'd specialists present their own ideas.

We have exactly the same setup in my team, as Peter described.
On most projects, we employ a team of 3-6 specialists. Rarely
more than 2 stay for the whole duration, the rest are brought
in when their specialist's skills are required.

More often than I wish, our clients demand close supervision, interim
deliverables and official sign-offs of every single design step. With
government agencies you can't but play by their rules, and these are
tough rules indeed. When we started working extensively with the
government clients, our best intention was to let them discuss
specific issues with the most suitable person for the topic. Sending a
portal techy to talk about portals and a graphic designer to talk
about styleguides made perfect sense to us. Unfortunately, it didn't
make sense to our clients.

More and more, we are switching to the model of having a designated
"design manager" whose sole responsibility on the project is to
coordinate the team and interface with the client. He may not be the
best choice to present each individual idea or deliverable. However,
overall it works better as the client is far less nervous about why
the heck he is talking to yet another "design person".

Some time ago, we stopped telling our clients how many people will
work on the project altogether. After all, it's none of their business
how our internal mechanism works. They need to understand our design
process and rationale behind every stage and they need to know the total
cost, the number of person/days per each stage and the average fee per
day. That's all (this obviously doesn't work for projects when
security clearance is required, but they are an exception).

I am a big advocate of transparency in this world, but I am even a
bigger advocate of efficiency. Unless your client wants to talk to
individual specialists, I would recommend avoiding it and having a
single person interfacing with a client on a design side.


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