Working on Process

One of the things I’m always learning more about is the early design phase. It’s my favorite part, the place of boundless possibility. You have an idea, you say “okay awesome I’ll go talk to my potential users and find out everything I need to know about them!” but you can’t just show up on their doorstep with nothing, right? Otherwise they’ll give you all their hopes and dreams and you won’t know what the hell to do with them. So you make a quick mock-up of what you think it could be structured like. Just some wireframes. But since wireframes inspire no one, you make a few aesthetically rendered ones so they get it.
This is the part I get carried away with. I start doing the entire wireframe storyboards in this aesthetic style. Why not, right? I mean, you already have the aesthetic ones made, you’re just saving yourself work that you’d have to do later… right? (no.)

getting carried away with a first idea is never a good idea.

getting carried away with a first idea is never a good idea.

Usually when I’m working on a team, this impulse to keep running with something gets checked, but since I’ve started freelancing I’m learning that I have to have a different kind of discipline than I was anticipating: I have no problem with getting myself to work long hours before a project has even gotten funding… I have a problem NOT over-working an idea before it’s at the correct stage.
What happened next is completely natural, of course: as my user research began in earnest and I began meeting with many great, intelligent people, the scope of the project widened tremendously. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t see this as a bad thing; by entertaining other’s ideas by saying “huh, yeah, it COULD go that direction, couldn’t it?” I can make a list of all the possibilities. Then, once I have a good idea of the possible scope, I narrow it down to a small list of must-haves for something small, simple, with a big punch. Not a big scope- I’m not looking to nuke it. I’m looking to snipe it.
Inevitably however, the design now needs a complete revamp. “But wait!” a part of me wants to wail. “I’ve just spent so long on this beautiful design!”
…Actually, that’s a lie. There is no part that says that in me. Call me a masochist, but I get a kick out of crumpling designs and tossing them over my shoulder. They weren’t wasted- nothing’s EVER wasted. I learned a lot through creating that first iteration. But it’s back to the drawing board.
I often draw the same design a few times over and over; with each time i redraw it, I reconceptualize it into a more organized essence of its idea.

I often draw the same design a few times over and over; with each time i redraw it, I reconceptualize it into a more organized essence of its idea.


Part of that learning process is discovering your own weaknesses: and I’ve found a big one, one which was hidden during my time at Microsoft Research because I was working solely in the Windows 8 metro style. No, I’m not talking gradient meshes, although those are a pain in the ass… I’m talking about typography. So after I tackle that weakness head-on (Helloooo Ellen Lupton) I’ll post about that. Nothing like facing your fears right?
…I’d totally rather face a shark than face typography.
…..then again, that’s a poor comparison perhaps, because I like sharks. hm.

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About jesspherron

A UX designer, illustrator, and animator residing in the Portland area, documenting the lessons of the highs and lows of being an artist.

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