"Everyone has a story. When people are talking about something they know well and do well, they’re almost always interesting. And if they’re not, it’s generally your fault because you’re not asking the right questions and you haven’t made them comfortable."

Malcolm Gladwell#

Courage

Excellent talk about courage and vulnerability by Nina Burrowes at the Dare Conference http://t.co/azC6I7yI0Q

Giving constructive design feedback

Imagine this situation: Someone comes to you and asks:

“What do you think of this design?”

You then see that what they’ve created doesn’t look very good. In fact, it looks so bad you don’t even know where to start with your feedback.

All designers have been in this situation several times in their career, sometimes on things that can be, erm, quite painful to look at for a trained pair of eyes. From being angry and almost in despair to being mature, serene and genuinely try to help, we, designers, have some techniques to help giving constructive and useful feedback.

These are techniques I use every time I’m asked to evaluate someone’s design work (and that I also find helpful when someone is giving feedback on my work):

1. First: Look for the positives

Start by looking for all the good things and things that work in the design. And then give your feedback on those. By giving positive feedback first, you’ll show respect for all the work they’ve done and it’s more likely that they’ll to be open to hear the following criticism.

2. Think before you speak

Take your time, don’t rush to speak immediately. And look carefully. Keep in mind that what you see has probably been done by conscious decision by whoever created it.

3. Pick 1 thing

If you had to pick 1 thing that would make a major difference on the design, what would that be? Things to look out for: colours, position and alignment of elements on the page,  hierarchy of information, general concept and idea, visual style, sizes of elements.

4. Understand why

Once you picked the thing, understand why it’s been done the way it is. Consider the fact that the person might already have thought about what you are going to say and may have made a conscious decision. It could be for technical reasons, requirements restrictions, time, all sorts of things. Ask them.

5. Say what you think the problem is

Don’t try to solve it, say what the problem is. For example, “this button is not prominent enough”, “this colour is not in line with the rest of the design”, “this area is a bit confusing”. Be tactful on how you say it. You might want to use sentences like “Maybe this…” “I’m not sure about…” “Do you think this could be…”

Repeat 3-4-5

Repeat 3-4-5 as much as you need. This process may sound like it’s long but in reality it’s a quick thought process and conversation. Once you’ve done this a few times, it’ll just come naturally.

Great talk about market research.

You can also find more about his book “The mum test” on http://momtestbook.com

Starting a new habit

photo

The combination of the “30-day challenge” technique and see your progress can be very effective when trying to start doing a new habit. Worth a try.

More about it:
TED Talk “Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days”
Leo Babauta’s “The Habit Change Cheatsheet: 29 Ways to Successfully Ingrain a Behavior”

“Good design does not require explicit instruction; rather, players learn from the game implicitly through environmental design as well as subtle ramping in challenge.” (Tanner Higgin)

‘Indie game, the movie’ sounds really interesting! http://buy.indiegamethemovie.com/

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My talk at Milton Keynes Geek Night #7 on “Getting your ideas done”.
Listen to the talk
Slides

(Photo by @JimmyMorrisUK)

Something small went wrong? You should be happy.

My dad always says: “Something will go wrong, that’s for sure, because nothing is perfect. It’s good when something small goes wrong because it can be easily fixed. Don’t worry, go ahead and fix it.”

#BePositive

(My dad is an entrepreneur who I highly admire. He built his engineering company from scratch 25 years ago to have now over 150 employees).

“It’s True: You Talk Too Much”

Great and funny article by Rob LaZebnik, The Simpsons writer.

Talking is like eating dessert whereas listening is like eating vegetables.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303722604579111220890756120

‘Get things done’ is matter of mindset

I believe that getting things done is a matter of mindset, which you can consciously choose to be in.

“Get things done” VS. “Keep the problem” mindsets

Mindset: Get things done
In this mindset, you are interested in getting your task sorted. Even if you feel you can’t make a decision right now, you are focused on getting it done as early as you can. Things you might be thinking:

  • What is blocking me to get this done right now? (and you look for an honest answer, not excuses)
  • What is the minimal information do I need to get this done?
  • What can I sort out now with the information I’ve already got?
  • Is the risk to get it wrong bigger than the hassle of having it still on my todo list?
  • Is my decision actually going to change after I get the information I’m waiting for? (There is a very interesting research on decision paralysis in the book”Made to stick“. The mere existence of uncertainty seems to block people even when the uncertainty was irrelevant to the outcome.)

Mindset: Keep the problem
In this situation you feel you can’t make a decision and your mind feels blocked, maybe because of uncertainties or concerns. Now, you may be genuinely blocked, but in most cases you might be only in a “keep the problem” mindset, walking around in circles, until you’re forced to make a decision.

The only way to get out of this mindset is to start asking yourself the questions from the “get things done” (above).

I believe that, in most of the time, it’s a conscious decision to change our mindset to get things done.