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When starting a new project, we sometimes overlook process. At the beginning of anything new, be it a project, friendship, or new adventure, we can let the initial surge of momentum get the better of us. By establishing process in our research and execution while forging new paths with our work, we can hone in on what’s most important, making sure the most important message isn’t lost — all while laying a foundation for improving our work with each new outset.

Recently, I received some insightful advice from someone on the team that grounded me: whenever you get overwhelmed with a task, or uncertain about how best to approach your role on a team, count on the “discovery / game plan / execute” process formula. With it, even the most seemingly insurmountable projects can melt into something far more manageable — sometimes, as the old saying goes, you just have to trust the process. …

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Originality is dead, according to some. But in the age of click, copy, and paste, is originality possible? What makes a piece truly original, and what separates a copy from a homage or derivative? Is it more important to feel out the landscape first, or to blaze one’s own trail?

Maintaining authenticity is hard, but we’re here to make it a little easier. Here are three dimensions of the value of originality, whether through the true pay-off of uniqueness or the dangers of its alternative.

Somewhere, someone is an expert — and they’ll see through the copies.

We’re all familiar with the middle-school classmate who doesn’t believe we’re actually into the band on our shirt: “Okay, if you listen to them, name five of their songs!” Although proving oneself is not a necessary component to establishing originality, skepticism will always persist in the face of it — so new ideas may always face questioning. It’s our job to design products and solutions that stand up to the skeptics on their own two legs, because down the road, unique design always takes risks no one else has tackled yet. …

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When we design products, we’re all about the users. Managing user expectations has become an integral part of creating products and service — especially given the premium placed on disciplines that empower those users, such as user experience design. But once a product is out in the market, we can see the difference between good and bad design through two process dimensions: a team’s ability to understand their user spectrum, and their urgency in solving for needs before they become problems.

Needs, however, are not limited to those of the primary users. Enter extreme users: the people who either break your product or make it bulletproof, depending on how a design process identifies them. …



Cosplayer, digital evangelist, brand skeptic, purveyor of justice by day. Dreaming in the sunlight, scheming in the moonlight.

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