That’s how it starts. Fiverr: 5 designers. 5 designs. $5 each. One task.
1. Short, direct answers. No hints, no excessive replies, nothing.
- Designer: Which platform? Me: iOS
- Designer: What does this cleaner look like? Me: like this
- Designer: What should I draw? Me: It’s up to you.
2. No polishing revisions
I accepted the very first result which came remotely close to serving its purpose. I requested revisions in two cases, but even then I only repeated the initial requirements. So, let’s see what we got?
The order of the icons is random. Enumeration is implemented just for structure.
Note. You can’t ask much for $5 so I’m not going to criticize these works in terms of their design. However, these examples may benefit both designers and employers. Designers will recognize some thought patterns that accompany good design and potential employers may learn the benefit of precise requirements.
I never specified that there should be no text. The design ended up simple and obvious, which I like. Though we often need icons to replace text in applications, not to add it. Perhaps the designer thought that using only the word Base would look like a prank so he decided to add a Return arrow to it.
The next revision would be: Get rid of the text. That will completely change everything (a designer will have to find another way of indicating Base). More precise requirement in the beginning would have helped.
The designer who presented this one told me that he used shadows and effects to show a vacuum cleaner, swift and unstoppable, rushing to… To where? I asked 0.o That’s why we made a revision.
The next revision would be: I see a good design idea here, though the green background and the house icon make me think we’re mowing the neighbor’s grass. Changing colors would help.
Pros: I got a badass presentation for these.
Cons: The designer didn’t ask me for the vacuum cleaner image.
Next revision would be: Change the vacuum cleaner icon. We all know and recognize that this is a vacuum cleaner in the picture. Maybe it’s supposed to be a symbolic representation. Ok. Imagine me with my app: I see my vacuum in front of me and I want to send it to the base. According to the icon, I do this by… rotating the hose. That’s the cognitive dissonance here. I do like, however, that iOS guidelines were followed.
At first I was skeptical. All I got was this circled arrow?! But thinking about it, the simplicity of conveying the vacuum’s round form is neat! I don’t know if that was intentional, but the decision is somewhat genius. Too bad the icon itself resembles a Refresh icon and may be ambiguous.
The next revision would be: This one belongs in a modern art museum actually. But for a useful app I would totally reconsider using a circled arrow. It looks like I’m trying to make my vacuum dizzy.
I encountered the same problem with the designer’s initial understanding, this time in the form of a language barrier (neither of us being native English speakers). Some good advice: use simple and unambiguous words when describing what you need.
The next revision would be: The idea is good. This is the first designer who tried to depict a base as a graphical object. If I could give him an exact “base” reference the result would be totally pleasing. The rest are color/style preferences that I will keep to myself.
All these works demonstrate different approaches to solve one design problem. I must confess there was quite a riddle in this task. I was surprised no one came up with the idea of a charger. The only purpose of a base for the cleaner is for charging. Hopefully somebody supports my decision.
A standard home button may also seem like a good decision but it’s all about a context.
You are remotely controlling a vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner cleans your house. What could that icon mean? Start cleaning? Don’t leave the perimeter? At the very least a home button could be combined with a charger icon.
This turned out to be a great and insightful experience and I’m determined to do more of these. I hope you picked up something useful for yourself here. I’m eager to hear your client-designer stories in the comments 😉
About the Author
Andrew Burmistrov is a usability specialist for Icons8. He started his career as a phone support specialist, telling jokes while customers were rebooting their computers, then moved to usability testing and occasional writing.