If you have been reading my blog (to which I am very thankful) you know I am always curious to experiment with something new in design. Whether it is to apply behavioural economics, impose constraints upon delivery or other elements. Now I decided to try something new-writing. Not as blogging, but get a little bit more in-depth on the technical aspects of it.
I read several books on the topic on how to write short, concise and bold. And it’s funny because similar principles which I use when designing a product appear in a good writing too. For example, in writing you have to scan for words which are empty. Words that don’t add anything to the to the context or message. In design same thing-don’t fill your product with useless features, seek which ones suck the most energy and resources and take them out. And let the product breath.
Clear thinking results in clear output. Whether it is writing or designing.
In some of my earlier articles you read a similar idea-messy mind will result in a messy product. Now this idea starts to shape up. I realised, once you apply it to a product, everything becomes easier. But it is hard to do it in a real work environment. Why? See for yourself.
In meetings you use big political words only to seem smart and save your own ass. When designing a product you always look at your competitors and allow external voices to mess with your thoughts. In decision making you always try to take the slowest route because it shows a fake effort and dedication. I can continue with this forever.
How did I change this? It might seem strange, but first thing is not to lie to yourself. And leave the illusions you have created in the head. It is painful and furstrating, but the result is a clear mind.
Then another part of a clear mind and thinking is to stop “utilising” complex words when you can “use” simple ones. A clear mind needs easy words, so anyone can understand you. Hiding behind big and complex terms won’t add any value to what you are trying to do in life. Don’t be afraid to seem easy to understand. Behind an easy mind hides a complex thinking.
Too much vanity is on the line. Managers at every level are prisoners of the notion that a simple style reflects a simple mind. Actually a simple style is the result of hard work and hard thinking; a muddled style reflects a muddled thinker or a person too arrogant, or too dumb, or too lazy to organize his thoughts. Remember that what you write is often the only chance you’ll get to present yourself to someone whose business or money or good will you need — William Zinsser, On WritingWell
Ignore the competition
May sound as a cliche advice, but I learned this lesson the hard way. It happened to me when I was working on my product. Before starting the design process I decided to do a market analysis. And see what other similar products are there. This way, breaking one of my main rules, which is to take the market research with a grain of salt.
Analysing what your competition does is great, but studying it too much will clutter your thinking too.
Here is how it happened. I was designing a “story management view” for the product, and did not have enough ideas on how to implement it. After asking for advice from my friends, browsing the internet and studying some of my competitors it became clear what’s the best way to design it. But then when I looked at the result, it became obvious-these weren’t my ideas and what I stood behind. This was my doubt filled in with external voices.
Before doing the research, I had an idea on how the product should look and work. But I doubted it. The voices in my head were telling me that „your competitors are already on the market and works for them, so it should work for you“. Meanwhile, my version wasn’t bad, it was good enough to do job. So I had to choose between being similar to them or do something that is good enough and live with the uncertainty. I chose uncertainty. This requires a certain level of courage and confidence. And that’s also how you create something great in life too.
The ability to speak simple and trust my inner judgement is one of the few elements that influence a clear thinking. The ability to ignore the external voices and focus on your own process is what results in a great output. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether you write, design or build.
I read a lot, and always when I come across a great idea I say „wish I wrote that“. And instead of copying it, I take a note and in future I combine it with other thoughts or ideas and create something of my own. Doubt is a strong influencer and will most likely kill your result if you can’t own it.
One more thing
If you are a blogger, writer or a simple human who loves to write in spare time, you might want to check out Shosho. Something I created to encourage creative souls to write even more and better. Shosho is a styling app which helps you remove buzzwords, jargon and words that are hard to read from your writing. I would appreciate if you give it a try.