You are going to run into situations that feel impossible. Situations where you will put so much stress on yourself that you freeze all action. Situations where you will have to make hard decisions that might negatively affect other people. Or situations outside of your control and you can only react.
You have a choice: you can either define what the situation is and come up with a plan to control it. Or the situation will begin to define who you are and begin to control you.
The difference is in the way you accept the circumstances before you. You have to acknowledge that anything up until that very moment of existence is irreversible. It happened. No amount of wishing will reverse time or your previous decisions.
Next you have to act. You have the opportunity to turn something that is working against you into something that makes you flourish. When you do that, you begin to define the situation because you begin to take control. Your actions now create the new narrative.
These are the moments you stand up and become a real leader because that is what you are doing… leading.
When things are not going to plan everyone is running to find a “fix.”
The ideas for solutions start coming from everyone. Developers become business development experts. UXers understand what developers should do to increase work flow. Project Management believes the entire process has broken. Everyone comes to the table with huge shifts in strategy, execution and management without knowing all the details. I call these solutions “hammers.” And sometimes you need a “hammer.” Sometimes the problem is big enough and you have to break something down and completely rebuild it.
But the first aim of a leader is to not find a hammer – but to identify the problem and see what tools your team really needs.
If you only need a screwdriver to tighten something up, and you brought a hammer, you are just going to make a mess.
While beacons have great potential to improve user experiences and disrupt the world of marketing and analytics, there are many barriers still in place that rely on the user to understand the value exchange:
The user must download the app
The device must have Bluetooth turned on
The user must give the app permission to receive notifications
The user must give the app permission to monitor location
The user must tap into the app after a notification is given to access information
The user must act on the call to action
As illustrated above, to get a user the information they need they must be willing to download, turn on, opt-in and be willing to act on a brand’s notification.
My biggest fear is turning user’s devices into private billboards for ads. We do not need more ads… we need more real world value from our digital products. Brands must make sure they bring enormous value to the user via beaconing – if not, beacons may never reach critical mass.
Below is the web design history of the Huy Fong Foods company, the makers of the much-loved Sriracha sauce. The top image is from now, and the bottom is from the Wayback Web Archive.
Sometimes creating an amazing product, people willing to support you and having intense patience is sometimes all you need.
People that do not accept mediocrity from themselves rarely accept mediocrity from those around them. If you surround yourself with supportive and driven people it will create opportunities to make yourself a better designer, entrepreneur, leader and even a better person.
Make it a goal to find like-minded people who touch other parts of the business world. I have friends who are successful in corporate real estate, project management for digital infrastructure, architecture, medicine and beyond. Through everyday conversation you will be given a cross-section of relevant industry advice that will allow you to see problems with different lenses.
I would also try to reach outside your industry online. Though the internet has given us the ability to get information from millions, are first inclination is to silo ourselves into those with like-minded point of views. I challenge you to follow people you might not agree with. If you are not process oriented then you should follow a rigid project manager advocate. If you are an Apple evangelist, follow Android fans.
This exposure to ideas, processes and information will give you the knowledge to make the connections that create real innovation and build empathy for what could be your future user or customer.
Positive energy attracts positive people who will ultimately support your ideas. And if they support your ideas – make sure you support theirs. Building a community of people who help you through the walls of creative block and give real, constructive feedback will only strengthen your commitment to your ideas. As you begin to execute part of the process your community of supporters will inspire you to continue.
I will caution you with this: The people who convince us not to chase a dream are typically family members or those who know you the best. They are trying to save you from risk and harm. This is a noble human character attribute but ultimately it is not good for your process. If you find yourself being convinced by those you love the most that your ideas are not achievable” or they bring up risk scenarios, I recommend finding peers who are in similar situations with similar aspirations and developing your community with them.
As creatives we are constantly looking forward to the next idea. We have eight great ideas and two million sketches of half-baked ones. This is how we live. A constant journey of development.
Most of us are in love with the process of design. The ideation, the thrill of the solution, the ability to put our pen to paper and make sense of a complicated problem with a few strokes of ink. Our love with process also has a dark side. Like all good drugs, it gets you high, and as you begin the process to carry out the idea, your interest wains… the high is now gone. Reality creeps back in. The what-ifs! The challenges! The real world! So, we jump. We move on to the next idea and junk the old one before it was ever realized.
You must have strength to beat the addiction of “new ideas.” You must move forward by developing the ideas you have successfully. You need to institute a process in which you work the best. For me its a certain type of music on my home surround sound system, I then take my MacBook into the living room, set it up on table, and sit in front of it until something happens. It’s that simple. I call this my “working habit” – I developed it so that I could consistently execute ideas over time.
A big part of building a “working habit” is to be self-aware enough to know when you have gone off track. There was a point where I had to unplug the wireless router just so I would stop surfing the internet, or throw my phone into another room. If you can control your time-wasting you are one step closer to being able to develop your “working habit”.
You must consistently approach your work in the same manner over a long period of time to create the habit. You must use your strength on the worst days to accomplish something – even it isn’t usable in the end. Make sure to stay in front of your canvas, your computer, your keyboard, until you create something. Do not leave until you have something or you have fulfilled your time for the day. Never give up. Be strong.
We all have something we refuse to sacrifice to make our dreams reality. This could be sleep, money, relaxation, or a social life. It could be time with children, eating a nice dinner with a spouse, or the great, new television show. We trade our time for something else every minute of the day. If you are pursuing a goal, time is the only thing you can’t afford to live without. No matter what this goal is – you must make time for it. To make the time – you must sacrifice.
I am not saying to stop your life completely, but look at the time you waste. How many nights have you found yourself sitting in front of the TV or surfing the internet and two hours have gone by? Maybe you should wake up an hour early and complete 45 minutes of something you have always wanted to learn?
Make time for your dream through sacrificing the junk that still leaves you empty. If you can’t make the time – maybe you need to realign your dreams and your expectations of what you can carry out and when. Be honest with yourself. The idea isn’t that your dream isn’t achievable with your current life, it’s just not going to get here any faster with you not focused on it.
We designers love us some Dieter Rams. His 10 rules for “Good Design” should be lived by all those who are looking to solve problems.
Earlier today it got me thinking of what could replace “design” in his rules and still stick. I think I found one…
Good Government is innovative.
Good Government is useful.
Good Government is accountable.
Good Government is comprehensible.
Good Government is honest.
Good Government is unobtrusive.
Good Government is sustainable, and long-lived.
Good Government is consistent.
Good Government is environmentally friendly.
Good Government is as little government as possible.
As always, inspired by Dieter Rams
Now is the Time for Branded UX
With “Material”, Google is trying to lay the groundwork for a specific look and feel for all Android apps across all devices and screens. These new interactions and development tools were created to compete with Apple’s dynamic iOS7 UEX/UI. And, surprisingly, “Material” seems to be the real deal. The new visual language could bring the design of Android apps up to the quality of iOS.
If animation and transitions are now at parity than the opportunity is ripe for brands to begin owning the interactions, the design and the movement of their apps across devices and screens. Apps across platforms could look nearly identical and potentially could forgo platform specific affordances when appropriate.
I am currently leading UX Strategy on an app that has a larger screen component in retail spaces. The UEX/UI we are implementing into the app matches the look and feel of the larger screen but with a decidedly mobile twist. We have kept important platform conventions when it is most appropriate but a majority of the UI is new, interesting and dynamic. By balancing the brand and the OS affordances the experience is more focus and guided without slavishly following Apple’s human interface guidelines or Google’s design suggestions which could dilute the branded experience. With our UI, the user is drawn into the brand’s world. Almost all of the transitions and layouts will be implemented into Android, iOS and the larger screen component similarly. Across the experience, each screen will feel like it is connected..
What Google wanted to accomplish with “Material” was to create a visual language that spanned multiple screens from web to phone to wearable to car.
What they inadvertently did was open a door where brands and services are open to do the same without following their lead.
So, what does this mean for brands?
It means a brand now has to figure out not only it’s mission and message, but also it’s personality and how that is conveyed via movement.
It means that brands must balance platform affordances with game changing UEX/UI over each and every screen – especially as mobile devices act as profiles and are the key to personal experiences.
More than ever it means a brand’s user experience is key to your success. And THAT is a great thing.