How To Propose

Today I’d like to share some lessons on how to propose ideas to managers, clients, and others outside of your design team. This is very different from proposing ideas to your fellow designers and developers. When dealing with non-technical individuals you have to approach the proposal carefully to help them see what you are proposing and get past any ill formed objections to your proposal.

I have found that many people have a dim concept of the technologies you are working with and they have often formed some sort of conclusions about the effectiveness of using these technologies. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong, but they are rarely well informed. We see this with Flash development as we move from creating time-wasting animations to creating time-saving RIAs. Many people still perceive Flash as a useless distraction.

An article on IBM’s web site on the use of paper prototypes spurred discussion on this topic on many weblogs recently. After looking at the article I have to agree with their findings. Using roughly sketched paper prototypes and wire frames can help your manager or client to see past the unfinished graphic design to understand the general concept that you are presenting.

One other tip, when you bring up new ideas make sure that you have created a well written, formal proposal that is a page or two long that clearly explains what you are proposing, the estimated cost, time, and other resources needed as well as the benefits of your proposal. If you can use numbers rather than saying “it will help a lot” that can make a big difference. Try to anticipate the top three to five objections and answer them before they are asked in a positive way. When you bring up your proposal you will then look like you already know what you are doing and the added confidence and clarity you get from creating the proposal can help get it approved.

Kevin Hall
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