When a company approaches us about a potential design or development partnership, we always begin with a quick conversation about their goals and challenges. This helps us get a better idea of what the current state of the project is and how we can bring some new ideas to life. On this initial call, one of the first phrases we often hear is:
“I think we just need a fresh set of eyes on this project.”
Viewing your project with tired eyes is inevitable when you have a long-term team working on continuous, incremental changes. It’s easy to put your head down in the backlog, fix bugs, and cross off items without ever taking a step back to see how users are really interacting with your product, and if your interface is working.
We’ve nearly all experienced this effect in different functions within a company. When a new developer joins a long-standing team, they may immediately identify bugs that have been blind spots for months or years. An experienced designer may be stumped on a project, while an intern might jump in with a light bulb idea right away. And as a marketer, I know I’ve missed typos over and over that jump out at a new reader.
Here are a few quick reasons an outside perspective is beneficial for your project.
1. An Outside Team is Free of Pre-Existing Internal Biases and Preferences.
When a company has been in the business for 10, 20, or 30 years, there are bound to be a few unspoken rules on how things look and function. It’s easy to fall victim to the dreaded “that’s just the way we’ve always done it” way of thinking.
When you engage an outside team of designers, these unspoken rules are taken out of the equation. They may be uncovered in conversations, but they’re more likely to be challenged and analyzed to discover the root problem. Discovering the thinking behind a bias is one step closer to pushing past it for real progress.
2. Fresh Eyes Mean New Backgrounds, Experiences, and Views.
This is the same mindset that prompts companies to engage outsiders on their board of directors. While employees with years of experience in an industry have an invaluable customer and product knowledge, an outsider can add their unique perspective to any problem.
Agency designers often aren't industry specialists, but instead highly qualified generalists throughout the wide realm of design. Reflecting on, and discussing, lessons from similar and starkly different past projects helps one view a problem from a new angle.
Our designers' work with Wheelhouse included a massive homepage redesign that encapsulated their brand through color and energy.
3. An Outside Team Can Rejuvenate Development.
Project design is often an afterthought that gets pushed further and further down the backlog. You’ve maybe heard (or said) something along the lines of, “We’re going to tackle that design overhaul next quarter.” And perhaps your development team has heard it over and over again.
Even a short design sprint from an outside team can result in quick, satisfying changes that can have a rejuvenating effect on product development. External design teams also often face less red tape than internal teams would when making changes, which allows the implementation to happen quickly.
4. Outside Design Help Allows You to Focus on Your Specialty.
Some companies were built by engineers from the ground up, and it’s ingrained in the DNA of how decisions are made and products are built. Engineering-heavy companies often default to function over style – and a fresh team of designers will help you focus on what you’re good at. You can build the new tools your users need, and a design team can craft a new interface, improve your branding, or simplify your user experience.