Technology and Creativity do a little dance
The best technology has contains a massive amount of creativity. Social media with community building hashtags or even meetups come to mind as an excellent way for creativity endeavors to find the niche markets like Photographing the hummingbirds in the Huntington Beach Central Park Garden. But in the field of technology we have an inherent automatacity that begs routines, systems, sameness. This is both the beauty and the beast of technology. So how can creativity be infused in tech for that beautiful symphony that creates superior products?
Infuse Creativity into Tech by:
Gaining a new perspective
Thinking about humans
Pushing the limits
Creative solutions through a new perspective
By bringing new life, new people, different and far ranging people, we can begin to look at tech differently. Questions like, why do we do it this way? And is there a better way? Should be embraced. This sounds obvious, but in the flow of everyday work, people do what is comfortable, what is easy. What services are we using to design or apps and websites? What browsers are we testing on? What is the most popular social media platform to use? These are questions whose answers change and they change relatively frequently. Creative solutions in tech are allowed when a new perspective is allowed to walk through the door. Electric cars were prototyped but deemed not feasible until Elon Musk brought Tesla to the world. He asked different questions and looked at the problem with a new perspective. He didn’t have the automotive background, which in this case was a positive because he didn’t have the baggage of “this is how it is done”. His new perspective brought a new concept about how automotive manufacturing could be achieved.
If you have been in tech for a while, you can amp up your creative juices to bring new perspectives by gaining new perspectives within yourself. You can do this by going to new places either through travel or just exposing yourself to a completely different surrounding. If you are a city-dweller, try hiking or even mountain climbing. If you get outside a bunch, what about driving a race car? By bringing new experiences outside of your current work, you’ll trigger new neural connections that will allow for the creation of new ideas and different approaches. Meeting new people can also be creatively stimulating. This explains the explosion of meetup.com and conferences like ted talks, SXSW and Mind the Product.
Thinking about humans
Another creative pursuit that tech continues to need improvement in is from the pursuit of thinking about products from the perspective of the users of that product. This again, sounds simple enough, but the level of detail required to make a truly great product is far more than many are willing to put in. It requires talking to your users and finding out about their pain points. Then it involves thinking creatively about solutions that solve the needs of those users (and thinking less about your own preferences). Then putting those solutions into a product (or prototype) and building the courage to take it back to users to see what works and more importantly what doesn’t. This is a painstaking process that is also worth the effort. Talking to humans, thinking critically, developing concepts, and then talking to humans again is a process that will enable you to experience the problems of your users and come up with solutions that creatively solve their concerns.
Pushing the limits
Who do you think of when you think of pushing limits? Elon Musk? Bill Gates? Mark Zuckerberg? Thomas Edison? Amelia Earhart? They have all done the impossible or more accurately, the unthinkable. One of the important parts of pushing limits is setting goals and allowing for ambiguity about how to achieve that goal. The same is true in product design. It requires the strongest elements of both technology and creativity. Below are a list of forward thinking companies in tech — both in and outside of software. They exemplify what can happen when limits are pushed and technology and creativity are embraced as partners.
Slack — When everyone thought IM was dead, Slack amped it up so that it was workplace ready.
Paypal — rethought the way banking and credit cards payments were processed by focus on what the end user needed — the cutting of red tape.
Instagram — When many thought we had enough social after Facebook and Twitter, Instagram blew up by creating a differentiated experience for what will soon be a billion users.
The Boring Company — is hilariously named as it does nothing short of completely re-imagine how transportation happens and the infrastructure that supports it.
Space X — just manufactures and launches rockets. You know, the same old stuff.
Nest — did what many dreamed about and seemed Jetson-isk in controlling our homes client control to fit our actual climate needs.
When you are thinking about how you can be more creative in your technology challenges; consider gaining a new perspective, thinking about humans and pushing limits to amp up those creative juices. The great news is you can have so much fun while building those creative superpowers!
I’m Ellen Twomey and I started uxsimplified to relentlessly advocate for humans in designing user experiences. You can find me on Twitter at Ellen Twomey and on Instagram twomeyellen. Follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uxsimplified/