My Final Reflection

Thoughts on my first creative journey, creating a design for a Smart City.

Where I was at the beginning.

As a computer science student turned designer, I always felt that I was focused on the feasibility of designs. In a business context, this works well by building rapport with a team of developers, but I often stifled when it comes to being creative. I often don’t design something that I couldn’t build myself, but my coding knowledge is so outdated now that I second guess simple ideas.

Even now as a designer, I’m mostly focused on research interviewing up to 6 people a week. This has just lead to not believing in my designs unless they’ve been tested. This isn’t always a bad thing, but I have experience from interviewing hundreds of users already and sometimes users don’t know best.

My thoughts on the beginning.

Up until now, I’ve never had free reign to be creative, where the brief is to go explore a theme, discover problems and figure out how to come up with a solution. And at least the topic of SMART Cities was an interesting one!

In the beginning, this felt a little too free for me. There’s usually a brief to go by, there’s often a good example of what’s required or a shown limit of the amount to do. Writing this right now is still nerve-wracking thinking of the amount of work I’ve done, more as an individual than as a group.

My second struggle was the definition of ‘creative’. People find inspiration in a lot of places, and documenting every thought you have, every link you click on and every moment you’ve encountered in a city, is not an easy task! A task that a lot of UX professionals struggle with when justifying designs in portfolios.

My thoughts on where I am now.

I’ve realised I take a lot of comfort in going through processes. Exploration, sketches, usability testing, iterate, usability testing, UI design. For previous design roles, this may be because the research process was sold, meaning we didn’t promise a specific outcome. We can’t promise a minimum number of usability issues to be found.

Process should not be an excuse for the outcome, good or bad.

Since this module, I’m already using more lenses when analysing my designs at work. For example, using extreme edge cases and a dystopian/utopian lens to predict future use cases and usability issues before testing in the wild.

I’m still left wondering how else to be creative. Working with ‘trained’ creative professionals has been interesting but frustrating in feeling that I couldn’t contribute as much. But everyone starts somewhere and this module was my first step in learning how to be creative.