Before the very first page of a book has been read, you've already analyzed it in countless ways without even noticing. The paper stock, the thickness of the binding, the aroma, the color of the type and even the texture of the cover; the very character of the book is being dissected by the hand and eye at every moment.
In this brief second there is a dialogue between the reader and the object. This conversation is subtle and complex, but for most people it is entirely subconscious. This is because we rarely think about these things — we feel them instead.
The creative attribute has always been a highly debated and researched component of the human psyche. The “designer” job title seems to be one that calls to the more creative minded among us and according to some, requires the highest level of creative processing. This idea does lend itself to the truth, web designers are called upon to find creative solutions every day. However, we certainly aren’t alone.
Contrary to previous belief, creativity does not limit itself to the “right-brained” artistic types. The ability to find creative and innovative solutions to problems holds value in almost all aspects of life. Even those with highly analytical jobs and hobbies benefit from the ability to approach a complex issue from different perspectives and foresee alternate outcomes. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to suggest that creativity itself is more rooted in a process than random visionary moments.
You’ve heard the questions before. “The design looks great, but what are you trying to communicate?”“Where’s the message in your design?”“Did you use this texture here for a reason, or is it just design for design’s sake?”
Okay, enough with the questions. I’m supposed to be answering these, right? (Sorry, another question.) Well, our jobs as designers is to think of these questions before presenting something to our client, professor, peer or anyone with an opinion we value.
I’ll let you in on a little secret that really shouldn’t be much of a secret at all: content is king, and your design will never dethrone it. We live in a world where ideas sell, and everyone is buying.
Recently, a couple of things happened in my design career that have made me sit down and reflect a bit on where I’m at and how I can improve what I deliver to my clients and their users. I’d noticed that my source of inspiration had changed and that I was being inspired more by clever solutions and ideas than by visual flourish.
Like many designers, my RSS feed of inspirational websites is full of great work and posts. I’m also active on Twitter, and I meet up with other designers regularly at local events. But I find that at a basic level, I actually don’t draw that much inspiration directly from these things anymore.
In case you haven’t noticed, there is a growing excitement around mobile or device oriented web design. This excitement is fueled mostly by the high adoption rates of devices that come equipped with full scale browser capabilities but that’s not the only reason. A lot of talk lately has been centered around designing for context. So what does it mean to design for a user’s context?
Becoming an effective designer requires embracing universal design principles and best practices. Over the years, I have come to see that reaching maturity as a designer is a continual process of reassessment and letting go of potentially damaging baggage.
This can include jettisoning your ego and dumping your assumptions, prejudices and even your own opinions. There can be no sacred cows when you try to become what I call a selfless designer.
The saying “Ignorance is bliss” originates in Thomas Gray’s poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” (1742). The quote goes: "Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise." Face it: you were better off not knowing that, weren’t you?
Generally speaking, ignorance is a detestable state of mind. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to deal with life. But ignorance itself doesn’t equal stupidity. For instance, I view myself as someone who is smart enough to realize his huge capacity for stupidity. I know there are massive gaps in my cultural and general knowledge. I would define my intellectual state as, at times, unaware. But who am I kidding? In some areas of life, I’m just plain ignorant, even if not by choice.