Tonight I was chatting with a friend, and he asked a question that comes up with my friends and family on a fairly regular basis: “Why do you love being a designer so much?”
Normally I ramble off a long list of detailed reasons, most of which include design jargon and acronyms. This time I decided to break it down into 8 easy to digest one liners. They went something like this:
Being a designer is amazing because…
- Creating something that didn’t previously exist is intoxicating
It’s kind of like having kids. First there’s an idea. Then over time it turns into this amazing thing that exists, and you are its creator.
- Designing products and features is completely addictive
Once you been bitten by the design bug, you’re a lifer.
- Solving people’s problems is incredibly rewarding
When you’re starting a new feature or product, you’re trying to solve a problem for a specific audience. You research, you interview, you do kick off meetings, all of these things are to make sure that you’re solving the right problem. Once you’ve nailed it down, you start brainstorming all of the zillion ways you could go about solving that problem, until you find the magic one: the square peg to fill the square hole.
- There is always something exciting to look forward to
No matter how much you love a design, you’re proud and excited for about 30 seconds when it’s done. Then you hit 31 seconds and you’re consumed by thinking of all of the enhancements/changes you want to make in the next iteration, which is just as exciting.
- You will never, ever know everything
As a designer you learn new tips and tricks and find new tools every single day. Trends change, new tech is created, new languages are written, tools are enhanced, tools disappear, you have to enjoy being a life long learner to survive in this profession.
- Design inspiration is EVERYWHERE
Everywhere you look, you’re taking in detail and drawing inspiration. There are the expected places, like design blogs, sites like Dribbble, beautiful collections of inspiring design on sites like Muz.li, etc. But the main source of design inspiration comes from EVERYTHING — the shade of the orange on your countertop, the shape of a lamp post, the design on a comforter, the shading created by a shadow on the sidewalk, the vibrance of flower petals — there is a never ending stream of inspiration everywhere you look.
- You see the world around you differently than other humans, and want to fix all of the things
As a designer, in addition to seeing inspiration everywhere you look, you see things that need to be fixed. Poorly designed doors are your nemesis. Oddly arranged grocery store layouts give you a twitch. Menu’s with terrible font choices are cringeworthy. Kerning in school holiday performance programs can be painful to look at. And it’s not negativity driving these observations, it’s a deeply rooted need to fix these things that makes them stand out. You constantly imagine ways to improve the world around you. And when you get to act on those thoughts? It’s a great day.
- You’re always surrounded by a deeply passionate, supportive community of like minded people
Being a designer means you’re part of something big. Designers understand each other because we process the world around us in similarly different ways. It makes us close knit in a way that other professions don’t seem to understand. The design community is a family that celebrates thinking outside the box, and imagining that the impossible is possible. We embrace this line of thinking because all of the most innovative creations have come from designers making impossible things exist.
After I rattled off my quick list, my friend seemed to really get it.
His response was, “I’m pretty jealous that you found a career that you love so much. Most people never get to experience that feeling.”
He’s absolutely right. Having the opportunity to design for a living is a magnificent gift.
We’ve all been there right? A company advertises their product as “free”. You get all excited and run out to their site to sign up. You provide your name and email address, maybe even a bday, no big deal. Then you hit next only to find that they want your #$(%&*$ credit card number!
Why? Why do companies do this? They are CRUSHING their onboarding conversion potential! This is the LAMEST UX on the face of the earth. Other than, you know, nuclear reactor buttons being poorly arranged.
Horrible practice though, seriously, especially when your target audience is even remotely tech savvy. You need to gain user trust before folks are going to fork over their credit card numbers. By asking for it too soon in the workflow you alienate people who could have become paying customers over time. Not only did you alienate them, you just completely obliterated any semblance of brand trust that could have existed straight out of the gate if it weren’t for your shady, lame onboarding UX.
So in a nutshell: Stop it. Right now. If you’re guilty of this, fix it. You’re brutally murdering your company’s sales potential at the very first user touch point.
So my kiddo entered this international festival singing contest (record a song, send it to the festival selection committee, 16 finalists are picked, then they narrow it down to 3).
She won 3rd place! I was mega pumped for her. What exactly does this have to do with UX?
Today, an Amazon Fire HD magically showed up at our doorstep. We had no idea that 3rd place came with fun tech perks!
So the Fire arrived, she freaked and started opening it. Then something MAGICAL happened.
A ray of light shone down from heaven on the box. Amazon has PERFECTED the art of keeping parents and kids from accidentally amputating fingers while trying to get their packages open! The UX was so epic, in fact, that I made her stop mid tear to take this pic!
Her response? “Only you would stop to take a picture of this, mom… but it is great UX.”
Ah the joys of raising a tech loving kid who gets me. I will cherish this exchange and recall it 2 years from now when she hits her teens and is embarrassed to be seen with me. 😉
Thank you Amazon for rocking my UX world with your killer packaging (and de-packaging) setup. It caused unexpected delight all over the place here tonight.
It was also a fab reminder to always pay attention to the little big details. Positive experiences with your brand can start way before a user even touches or downloads your product. Take advantage of every single touch point, no matter how small, to make your brand shine. Paying attention to little tiny details can make a great big impact.
Recently I wrote a blog post about how there are currently a couple of really great mobile usability testing tools out there, but I couldn’t find any that did everything I needed.
I tweeted my article, and one of the partners at Zurb shot me a message. We got chatting about SolidifyApp and UXRecorder and how I really wished there was a single tool that did what those two tools do best.
SolidifyApp lets you create clickable prototypes for usability testing, then does gesture tracking, allows you to create tasks that need to be completed by testers, gives them the opportunity to give feedback and then gives you some killer stats.
UXRecorder does screen & gesture capture, as well as audio & front facing camera video capture of tester faces.
UXRecorder lets you enter URL’s for web apps and prototypes. I tested it this afternoon and you can also enter your SolidifyApp Usability Test URL in UXRecorder, and combine the best of both worlds into one killer Mobile Usability Testing solution!
1. Gesture tracking data
2. Screen capture video
3. Gesture capture video
4. Front facing camera tester facial video
5. Tester audio
6. Task completion statistics
7. Written user feedback
It does all the things! It’s Mobile Usability Testing magic, I’m telling you! And, it only takes minutes to set up! Goodbye Mobile Usability Testing market gap! I am majorly pumped about this solution!
The best part? SolidifyApp has a 30 day free trial, and UXRecorder gives you a 30 second free session to test their app out before you commit to purchase to ensure that it’s the right solution for you! (I can tell you from experience that once you’ve tried SolidifyApp, you’ll want to subscribe. It’s currently one of my favorite usability testing tools!)
UX Recorder http://www.uxrecorder.com
I’ve been searching for weeks trying to find this Mobile Usability Testing combination! I hope it serves you all well!
Have you ever signed up for an invite only product launch? You know, like Pinterest back in the day, or Google Voice. You go to a website, insert your email address, and then wait for an indeterminate period of time to get your official invitation to access the product or service.
Being one of the first people to experience a new product gives folks a sense of excitement and pride. The only problem with this model is that often times folks who aren’t at the very front of the invitation line totally lose interest in the product or service while they wait for their official access.
Well, let me introduce Orchestra Inc, a company that has successfully hacked the brains of hundreds of thousands of tech lovers with a stroke of UX and marketing brilliance.
Orchestra Inc is currently in the process of launching their new app Mailbox. Rather than making you enter your email address and then forget their product, they’ve set up a system in which you download a dummy app that serves as your “reservation.” You can then open the app and view a live updated number of “people in front of you” as well as the number of people who signed up after you, who are basically standing behind you in line.
This method has generated all the excitement of standing in line outside an Apple store the day of an iPhone launch, (without the horrible weather, weirdos and excessive boredom) because you can see the “line getting shorter” every time you look at the app. They actually rewind the number of people in front of you on the screen, rather than just showing an updated number.
If you think about it, they are rolling out the service like most cloud based services have in the past. They’re adding accounts a little at a time to make sure things are going to scale properly, with increasingly rapid implementations over time. But instead of people losing interest while they wait, folks are getting more and more excited as time goes on. I’m currently “in line” behind half a million people, but have checked my “status” at least 4 times in the past 8 hours. There is something immensely satisfying about watching the number of folks in line in front of me fly downward.
This entire concept is absolutely brilliant. From a marketing perspective, the popularity is blowing up. They allow you to tweet that you’ve made your reservation, which has led to a social media driven download frenzy. From a UX stance, the reservation system has led to a giant pile of unexpected delight in the app’s future users.
I have the feeling this is going to become a common practice for new product launches (especially apps) in months to come. I sincerely hope that the person or people who came up with this concept are given giant raises in the very near future.
In addition to a completely awesome product launch campaign, the app itself is fabulous. It has a beautifully designed, clean UI and I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on it.
All I have left to say is “Bravo!” to the whole team at @mailbox. And, if you haven’t yet, make your Mailbox app reservation in iTunes today. You’ll be WAY behind ME of course… but you know… we can’t all be first in line. 😉
This blog post was inspired by a tweet from Ian Smile @endashes, thanks for the inspiration. 🙂