You're in the middle of a project. The classic iron triangle of project management is cost, scope and time. These boxes were checked. The strategy seems sound, and yet your gut is telling you something is wrong. The creative appears decent, the wireframes are done, and yet if feels like something is missing. It'd be easier to walk away, to just sign off on the work and throw everything into testing and come back later.
Don't stop until it feels good. Because when we ignore that dissenting voice inside of our heads, or the ones that come from our more skeptical co-workers, something is wrong. We owe it to ourselves to create work that we believe in and feel good about, not just show up for. We do this every day, and people are going to use it.
What is that unturned screw deep in the project that is bugging you? Why are you losing sleep? Because it isn't balanced, and there is that X factor missing. That secret something between the lines, around the images, and somehow connected to the product itself. It's the vision of all the connected pieces, that holistic subconscious clicking sound when you see or use something well designed. Like it's made for you.
Despite how technologically advanced life appears to us, the emotional core of our brain is primitive and that's not going to change. We're searching for meaning, a deeper emotional and non-rational connection, whether it's in our own lives or on the internet. We tap into the subconscious, pulling meaning from recreated dreams, visions and illusions, interpreting them into the ideas that help us define and understand the world around us. A story.
Turning scattered human logic into useful, effective work is the difficult skill that requires constant practice. Learning how to work collaboratively with others when the answers are not clear requires patience and an elastic ego. Then exercising craft to shape the ideas into something useful based on strategic goals eventually becomes a critical though often misguided process.
And now ideas spread faster, farther, and in more complicated ways. Technology evolves the idea through multiple iterations, over time, through real-time testing and on the tides of a social media whirlpool. We have to be present and responsive, innovative and full of initiative, ready to respond in different ways than we would have imagined last week. Every day is a chance for a new idea, or to learn a new way to approach things.
Now that content is being formed into more repeatable structures around the web, awareness of good practice interactive patterns are quickly becoming cemented around us. Users have become well trained critics of poorly crafted experiences, and businesses that understand how to "design" are becoming the success stories of our age.
Let's make things that click.
Take another five minutes and poke at it again. We're not going to find it somewhere else; it's here. As we sweat and crank on it and work harder, we'll find it. The next time we are frustrated or blocked, remind yourself that's what it feels like to learn, and figure out a way around, through, under or over a problem. Practice, iteration and hard work are the answer. It will be revealed one drop of sweat at a time.
The secret is there is no secret, we have no excuse. Let's make it awesome.
June 6th, 2013