Over the course of my career I’ve developed a short and simple list of what produces successful creative products.
Relationships come first.
Without a doubt, the most effective ingredient in a successful project is the quality of the relationship with the stakeholders and collaborators. Good ideas are always very fragile in the beginning so it’s important to have trust built up amongst the team to have the faith to invest in those ideas. When there is distrust, bad solutions float to the top by virtue of their ease of execution and familiarity.
Homework (research) pays off.
Domain knowledge is helpful, but the key thing here is to do enough research to grasp enough of the problem set so that you’re viewed as a real collaborator in solving the business problems and not just a design specialist.
Simplicity wins even when you might not want it to.
Sometimes after spending weeks on a project, the best solution is often just a small sentence and a button. It’s part of the maddening process of design, but it’s important to acknowledge these solutions as the right ones.