have a come-to-jesus talk with yourself
I’ve written a lot of posts about self-awareness lately. Every blog with advice on blogging says you have to have a focus when blogging. I’m going to be honest with myself – when I started blogging, I thought I would be writing about design, user interaction, and the developing world. And I’ve done that only halfheartedly. But the reason I write is to create conversations with people. And the conversations in my head lately are about self-awareness.
(image courtesy of… )
Blogging is about honesty. Design is about honesty.
I write about how people interact with objects, situations, each other, and themselves. Being able to view those interactions objectively – watching the gap between the encounter and the action of its response – is what makes a great designer great. Those honest truths that you uncover will lead you to great designs. The hardest interactions to understand, though, are the ones that you have with yourself.
It’s hard to be honest. It’s hardest to be honest with yourself.
We see this all the time in product design. Donald Norman says that people only buy things for two reasons. Either something is useful, or it is beautiful. In marketing land, what sells a product is features. But people don’t want features. They want usability and beauty. They just don’t want to admit to themselves that usability and beauty are not found in the latest and greatest features. People are notorious for not being able to do that. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, I would have ended up with a faster horse.” Designers have to ask the right questions and be honest about the answers they get to be able to come up with something remarkable.
Right now, I don’t know what’s useful in my life, or what’s beautiful. In some ways, I’m at a personal and professional crossroads. It’s a good place to be, for the opportunities that it provides, but it’s a scary, uncomfortable, and brutally honest place to be, too. But that’s ok. I’m not sure what’s ahead of me, but I’m sure that it will be both beautiful and useful in my life. To get there, I’m going to have to ask the right questions, and I’ll have to be prepared for the answers.
We’re all like that. We see beauty. We value usefulness. And yet we want the features – we want the 13 extra buttons that we’ll never use when we would have just been happy with the volume and channel controls. So ask yourself if the things you have are things that you find beautiful or useful. And if they’re not, ask yourself what they’re doing in your life. Do this with your things, your interactions, your circumstances. And do this with yourself and your personality.
Be honest with the answers you get.