So you might have noticed an increase in content around here recently. I’ve finally redesigned my portfolio site and also started this blog. I’ve also started applying for design jobs again. (Which may be why you’re reading this). It’s not a coincidence that all this is happening at the same time. It’s because I re-discovered my why.
Fairly recently I was at a job interview for a web design position. And the usual questions that are asked in job interviews were being asked and I recalled my semi-prepared answers to them. But then the interviewer asked “Why are you here today?’ I was a little taken back and paused for a moment. I didn’t quite know how to answer it. I wanted to give an honest answer and so decided to tell the story of me. The first half of this basically consisted of my ‘about me’ page on the website. I told them how I got into web design and how I’d found it magical. And then I got to the section where I worked at a phone shop for 3 years. And I felt the need to justify it.
For a long time I wasn’t able to justify why I’d stayed there. And I would avoid asking myself the question entirely. But now I can justify it. Some of the magic of helping users with technology and exploring new technology myself is at my current job; but not enough.
During the interview I explained how I forgot exactly why I fell in love with design and forgot why I wanted to be a designer in the first place. And now, 3 years later I was waking up and had remembered why I loved it. I’m not entirely sure what changed but my current job wasn’t enough anymore, and I needed to create and design again.
I started with what seemed the only real thing that I should be designing. My website. I redesigned it. Using WordPress as a content management system; Partly for convenience and partly because I wanted to refresh my skills on it. I got to explore some new features of it which will definitely come in handy when I do websites in the future. This still wasn’t enough so I started a blog on the site. I brought over some blog posts that I had done in university at jotted down ideas for what I wanted to talk about in the future. It didn’t matter that no one was (or is probably) reading. I got to use CSS again and got to tinker with minor details that, in all likelihood, only I’ll notice and make banner images and use Photoshop again.
This, it seems, still isn’t enough. I want to do more. I started consuming design information again, and came across Google’s Design Sprint Kit. (https://designsprintkit.withgoogle.com/) Which is a website and methodology for quick prototyping and design. This I think will be my next project.
I’m going to design a solution to a problem purely for the fun of it. Almost a concept UX solution. I’m not sure what I will aim for yet. But I’m going to use their 5-phase methodology to do it. All be it a stripped down version as I won’t have a full team and stakeholders at hand.
- The Understand Phase: ‘During the Understand phase, your team comes together to explore the business problem from all angles.’
I’m going to gather research from as many different sources as possible and gain an deeper understanding of an issue than I currently do. This will need to be both primary and secondary research as well as qualitative and quantitative.
- The Sketch Phase: ‘During the sketch phase, individual team members are given the time and space to brainstorm solutions on their own.’
For me this will pretty much be the same. Just brain storming ideas and trying to think outside the box.
- The Decide Phase: ‘The Decide phase is when the team chooses which ideas should be prototyped.’
Here’s where I’ll narrow down my ideas into one. This is the one I will fully prototype and develop.
- The Prototype Phase: ‘A design sprint prototype is a facade of the experience you have envisioned in the sketch phase.’
This is where I’ll make my prototype that resembles the experience I am trying to give the user.
- The Validate Phase: ‘The Validate phase is the Design Sprint moment of truth. Your team will finally get to see live users interact with their ideas and hear direct feedback from your target audience.’
This is the phase where I’ll test my prototype with real users, and most importantly, record the results and feedback.
After I’ve completed this I can see how well I did o each phase based on which of the three outcomes I have made:
- An efficient failure : The prototypes didn’t hit the mark, but you learned something (many things) and saved your team 4-6 months of work building the wrong product. You might want to run a follow up Sprint.
- A flawed success : Some of your ideas met users’ needs but not all of them. You learned something and can now iterate and test again.
- An epic win: The concept met your users’ needs; they were able to complete tasks easily and engaged with all the features you mapped out. You are ready to implement!
I’ll then write a follow up blog about how the whole thing went.
So that’s my plan. I’m not sure exactly how long it’ll take but I’m determined to get it done.