15 things Ray and Charles teach us
There's an awesome essay by Keith Yamashita called "15 things Charles and Ray teach us" (PDF), that I found via SwissMiss. I wanted to share it with you and summarise the 15 points here for those who don't have time to read the whole thing, but I encourage you to have a gander, because it's really beautifully presented and well written. I've applied the 15 points to experience design of course :) 01. Keep good company
Surround yourself with other awesome people, it will inspire you. For us experience designers it means brilliant people from different backgrounds, areas of expertise, industries...Making the effort to get out and meet them, and spending some time learning and sharing.
02. Notice the ordinary
Notice the simplicity in people's desired interactions and design them in that same way. If someone wants to drag and drop an item with a finger, don't make a complex dropdown menu. Use patterns that work well and are familiar to people where appropriate, so the learning curve stays manageable. Don't over-design things, keep it simple.
03. Preserve the ephemeral
Don't be afraid to design something that will work for a while and then be replaced by something new. I keep notes on things that I made to serve a purpose for a little while (lean start-up style), and then replaced and redesigned as I discovered more about the user needs. Those things in turn get redesigned again. As the user's relationship with the software evolves, so should the design. In the same vein, keep note of fads in experience design. They reflect a culture and a need at a certain time. There are interesting patterns there.
04. Design not for the elite but for the masses
Design things that will work on all sorts of devices, make your designs responsive, and cater for all kinds of connection speeds. Make your interaction design easy for most people to grasp, and allow your visual design to tell a story that many will appreciate. Ironically, observing extreme users will help you identify needs not so easily spotted in the average user. The designs you craft as a result will delight the majority of users.
05. Explain it to a child
In the same way that toddlers are able to pick up an iPad and use it immediately, your should strive to design software that is so simple to use that even a child could pick it up. I think this can apply to accounting software as well as games and anything else. This is not to say that it is designed for children, mind you. Your product/service/process ideas be solid enough that you can explain the essence of them to a child and have him/her understand with no difficulty. In fact you might get some pertinent questions!
06. Get lost in the content
Reach out to subject matter experts, read up on the new industry you are designing for, immerse yourself in the needs of users and the lives they lead...understand what their world is like, how it looks form the inside of their world, and what they aspire to. Understand the technology, speak to developers, try it out.
07. Get to the heart of the matter
Make sure you are solving the right problem, and articulate it clearly and concisely. Don't make documentation for documentation's sake. Just what you need, when you need it, aimed at the correct audience, and get to the point swiftly.
08. Never tolerate “O.K. anything.”
Fight for great design, in your work and in others too. If you are working in a lean way, ensure that your product is a great MVP, not an ok one. "Just enough design", does't mean "ok design". If you think something isn't good enough, that it could be better, say so.
09. Remember your responsibility as a storyteller
Collect user stories, tell them in a convincing way, either through role-play, customer journeys, a video clip, presentations, illustrations...Tell the story of the design clearly, and in appropriate detail. Get good at storytelling. Read up on this and practice, it's a really useful skill.
10. Zoom out
Never fail to see the big picture.
"Never get Bored". Don't restrict yourself to designing websites, apps or whatever. Expand your horizons and apply your skills to whatever you can, whatever comes your way. Design a garden, a process, a book, a shop, a shoe, a room, a city, a bus or a spoon. Anything.
12. Prototype it
And early on.
Have fun. Play on words, play with ideas, with software, with images, with objects...can you use something in an unusual way? Have fun for fun's sake and share it with others.
14. Make design your life… and life, your design
It is awesome when you are lucky enough to find a career path that you love so much that the line between work and play ceases to really exist anymore. I think that's when you can say that you're in the right job. Make your own design for life, your own philosophy, and live it.
15. Leave something behind.
Our work lives through the people we work with, those who use our products, our clients, our friends. Beyond our craftsmanship, we should have the kind of positive presence that allows everything we stand for to emerge and remain once we have gone.