Being critical is critical
We’ve all read books and blogs, received advices and watched tons of videos about how we should do great stuff on the web or mobile or anywhere else. We all know that user interfaces should be as simple as they could get (Medium is a prime example of that). We all know that users don’t want to navigate through complex maze of buttons, links, popups and unnecessary distractions. Users want simple.
But how come we still encounter those disctractions on a daily basis? My opinion and experience is that once you’re 10,000 feet above looking at the whole picture, you see flaws. You see things which could be optimised and improved. But once you get closer and finally inside the business or team, you encounter several obstacles, either from developers, product managers or CEOs. You get blinded.
In the book I’m currently reading (Stand Out Social Marketing), Mike Lewis points out a smart lesson he learned from his basketball coach. He said that to improve your game, you must see it through the eyes of a coach. Then you see the big picture, not just a limited view on the game from your current position on the field.
When we encounter such blindness, we should stand our ground and keep in mind that we were once standing outside, looking at the situation from above and seeing what could be done to improve it. We shouldn’t let people who are too blinded by other stuff going on to convince us that something doesn’t need change if we saw its flaw with our own eyes.
Note on self-criticism
Being critical is not that hard if you’re an observer. If I notice someone unsuccessfuly teaching his dog obedience, I can easily see the mistake and can suggest a better way. But I also noticed that when I’m trying to teach my dog obedience, I’m also unintentionally doing some mistakes. I can’t see them because I’m busy with ten other things going on at the same time. I get confused.
Focus plays an important role in being critical. We all know we can judge other people’s work “better” than we can judge our own. That makes sense. When we’re the creators, we are busy solving many other problems in the process of creation. We can’t easily step a few feet back, take a deep breath, focus and be critical to what we’ve done. Maybe we don’t want to. Maybe we think our work is flawless. In any case, I think our work can become significantly better if we distance ourselves every once in a while and see it from another angle and truly be critical.
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