“So, you want to join the league of evil designers? Come in, sit down. Is the chair uncomfortable? Good. Let’s go through your application.
Ah, 2 years in online casinos? Not bad. Nice touch with the ol’ button switcharoo for users trying to cancel a subscription service! And what else… Non-consensual microphone activation for targeted ads? Very impressive. You’ll fit right in!
When can you start? We need all the help we can get with mass collecting personal data. Well, that, and removing all visual indications that something is interactive. Isn’t it the best when people get all confused and frustrated? …
It’s that time of year again — that strange in-between when everyone’s looking back and looking forward at the same time. Agencies around the world churn out lists about the best of last year or try to predict what we’re heading into. This year, however, there’s been an eerie absence of these lists in our feeds. Is it too early to tell? Was 2017 such an overwhelming year that no-one can bear to look at it, now that it’s over? Does 2018 feel so uncertain that the crystal ball is just fog and nuclear buttons? Who knows. …
Every now and again, I come across the same line of advice.
Speak up. Lean in. Take charge. Be more assertive.
It’s used in many different contexts, although perhaps most notably as a reprimand or encouragement aimed at women in tech. And while I’ll spare you a magnum opus on whether or not women actually need or want to hear this advice*, there’s something that has really bothered me about it:
Isn’t it strange to put so much importance on a personality trait that has so little to do with the creation of value?
Have you ever followed that one mate who always pretends to know where they’re going? Then you’re painfully aware that when someone looks like they know what they’re doing, it doesn’t guarantee they’re actually any good at it. Just because someone can “sell sand in Sahara” doesn’t mean it’s a good business proposition. The ability to argue for an opinion or idea doesn’t automatically come with the ability to come up with good ones — or even the ability to judge if they’re any good. …
Imagine you’ve just finished presenting a mid-stage draft of a digital product. It’s a good solution. You feel like you’ve nailed it. Eagerly, you look to your client for feedback.
But your client doesn’t look eager at all.
“I hate it! It just doesn’t feel like ’us’”
…does this feel familiar? Frustrating?
Most designers have run into some variation of this situation. But why does it happen? Is it that they’re a nightmare client? Is it that you’re a terrible designer? The truth is often more nuanced.
Everyone goes into a project with a gut feeling of what it ‘should’ be. These aren’t just measurable criteria like ‘high sign up rates’ or ‘users should give us good reviews’. You also have softer values like what it feels like & what messages it sends. These gut feelings can differ wildly from person to person. …
At the end of 2015, Apple announced its fourth generation Apple TV, and promised us the “Future of Television”. The hype that had been building for months reached a fever pitch, and every digital company fought tooth and nail to claim a slice of the TV sofa.
Things seemed to be going off.
It’s that time of year again — the time when agencies around the world are either thumbing through dusty tomes of yesteryear, or digging up their crystal balls from the back of office closets. Our feeds fill with all manner of compilations fuelled by the strange mix of nostalgia and hope that marks this most revered shift in our calendar. This year, we take a different approach. Instead of reminiscing or predicting, we created a wishlist — with things that we hope will happen in the industry the coming year. And maybe you can help us make it happen?
While we don’t like to admit it, there are moments in a designer’s career where you hit a plateau for creative growth.
This is not pleasing to us. Most designers I’ve met are more obsessed with chasing their next evolution than rabid Pokemon GO players.
But training yourself at being a better problem solver is a tricky business. In my experience, there is no clear path. However, there are things you can do to keep your creativity going.
Here are some of the principles I’ve followed in my pursuit of growth:
Lately, a small storm has been sweeping through the design team. The smatter of keyboards ring passionately in the halls, Slack channels drown in lengthy discussions, and the coffee pot runs dry from watering frustrated debaters.
The big fuss? Whether or not it is possible to create reusable systems and processes for UI design.
In the propagating camp: a handful of designers with a UX focus. The team rallies behind the manifesto-like nature of “design systems, not screens”. Eagerly welcoming ideas like Atomic Design, Object Oriented UX, project playbooks and the sharing of processes, we (alas! …
Designers tend to pull out the ol’ rose-tinted glasses when they speak about the user.
“The user,” we proclaim, “is the key… to everything.”
And we, of course, are the valiant knights defending the honor of these innocent gazelles of the digital landscape. When the beloved user is questioned or sidelined, we spring to our feet like proverbial Don Quixotes waving rusty Sharpies. This is usually not a bad thing.
To defend the user, to merge their best interests with our client’s business models in one continuous loop of mutual benefit, that is our job, and we do it proudly. Without that integrity, we’d probably all be drowning in interfaces covered in adverts and built however the backend developer thought was the easiest (I’m joking, backend developers, we love you too). We spend a lot of time considering our users, taking in their feedback and experiences and interpreting them into improvements that benefit everyone involved. This process helps us ensure we are solving real problems experienced in the real world. Being on the end user’s side is a key part of being a good designer. However, it makes it very difficult (and controversial) to admit that the user isn’t always defendable. …
By now, most of the people I talk to about my profession have moved past the idea that designers are quirky little oompa loompas that sit around waiting for inspiration to strike.
In many ways, this is a relief. Demythologising the design process helps build respect for and understanding of our work. Pesky “creatives” that have been giving us a bad name can no longer give the excuse that they’re not “inspired” enough to come up with an idea.(Come on people, the game is up.)
The idea of “inspiration” is largely a misinterpretation — plucking an idea out of thin air is probably impossible. …