an online conversation
about design management

Thinking like a client

We are currently revamping a website design for a team of architects. During the initial brainstorming about how to get the site to ‘talk’ to clients, one of the architects told a story.

He was working in London for a large architectural firm and they won a commission for a community centre that would contain a pharmacy, a coffee shop and meeting rooms. The client was the community centres’ board of management.

The board had never worked with architects before and were apprehensive of the project. They didn’t understand the terminology commonly used, and nor could they read plans. The architects could forsee a communication problem if they couldn’t work out a way to present their design solution in a format that the committee would understand.

The architects came to the next meeting and handed out a ‘community newsletter’. The newsletter (that they had completely written from imagination) included stories about ‘local characters’ (that were also invented). One of the locals was Betty, an 80 year old pensioner. The newsletter described how she met a friend for a morning ‘cuppa’ at the coffee shop and then walked (undercover) to the pharmacy to get a prescription filled.

It worked perfectly.

The architects presented the plans and how the rooms of the buildings worked together by plotting out the local characters daily activities. Like the need to get from the coffee shop to the pharmacy undercover.

This was a ‘take away’ for us. It has resulted in presentations that are customer journey maps. For instance we presented an annual report design by firstly taking the client through how readers used the report. The designs were then presented referencing how the readers would use the information.