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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

I'm considering designs for my full back piece. So far, it's been an interesting exercise in discovering the  limits of shared concepts/terminology, which I suppose is a lot like what I deal with on a daily basis as a consultant.

An unfortunate conversation, earlier in my career, went something like this:

client: we want "this" it should do "this, this and this" and look like "this" but not exactly.
me: ok, I'm on it. (several weeks go by)
client: is it ready, is it ready, is it ready?
me: yep, ta-dah!
client: uhhh
me: awesome, you're speechless. you must really love it.
client: uhhh... no.
me: Back to the drawing board.


4egreendragonI had a similar experience with my tattoo artist last week. A while back I went to him and described what elements I saw in my mind as making up the perfect picture. I can't draw a stick figure without an eraser and a gallon of whiteout so handing him a portrait wasn't really an option for me. I copied and pasted a bunch of pieces of art from various D&D books together in an effort to convey a theme, but it wasn't a coherent picture.

After nearly a month and a half of waiting, periodically stopping by to see how things were going (but never getting to see anything... he's a busy guy) and finally getting to see the rough draft... what I saw was pretty cool and interesting, but not what I was expecting or hoping for. You see, in my head, I pictured something like the picture to the left (not necessarily this exact picture.)

What I wanted was a cool dungeon scene with adventurers fighting monsters and something indicating different levels and depth, with an ancient feel. Oh and it had to cover up a couple of faded, not so great black&gray pieces I wasn't so crazy about. I didn't take him this exact picture because, well... I didn't think I wanted this exact picture (although the more I look at it... the more I like it.

WARNING: uncertainty and changing requirements midstream?  Surely this never happens to anyone else? Riiiight!)



The problem is, what he showed me Friday was this (left.)

Like I said, still cool and interesting (and very rough), but the more I thought about it, I realized it was not really what I was looking for. Technically, it met my requirements: original work, ancient dungeon feeling, cool looking, cover-up prior art and I knew the other requirements (monsters, characters) would come too, this was just a first draft. Flames at the bottom of the image... kind of a "descent into hell" (or out of hell, thank you Rachel for pointing out the glass isn't always half empty.)

Like I said, pretty much all my requirements were met except one. It's not what I wanted. So the question is, how do I get something that feels like the first pic, without actually being the first pic?


What should I have done differently? For that matter, what should my client (above) have done differently? For starters, relying on a verbal (or written description) apparently wasn't sufficient in either case. Had we spent more time actually looking at the things we wanted, and talking through certain key elements, making sure there is a shared understanding of the requirements, that could have made a difference.

Mistaking requirements gathering for design is always a problem. Fortunately for me, this Friday was just the first in a series of design reviews until we get exactly what I'm looking for. My client (above) wasn't so lucky. Had there been a design review within a day or two (or even a week) of the requirements gathering we would have discovered that while all the requirements were basically met, it still wasn't something he could live with.

In the end, my client got something he was happy with, although some pain was incurred and sacrifices were made along the way. I'll get what I want as well, eventually (and yes there will be pain.)

Posted on Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:22 PM General Interest | Back to top

Comments on this post: new ink (mistaking requirements for design)

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I was being the cheery optimist, but you have to admit, maybe the glass is just the wrong size.
Left by Rachel on Aug 17, 2008 12:35 PM

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