In a perfect world: The product should have a voice. One of an angel: beautiful and clear. <=> The product should not piss anyone off. Everyone will become our user, thus we should not piss anyone off.
These two things manifest all products, but especially big, meaningful, complex products. There is demand to have a voice. There is demand to make everything as usable as possible for everyone.
But the reality is, a great product is always growing, changing in big and subtle ways. As a great product grows, so does its voice. Voice check please! And as it grows, so does its user base, and the chance you’ll piss off someone is exponentially higher. You just can’t please them all.
That’s why we have designers. Designers are in charge of nurturing both a product’s voice and bottom-line usability.
Don’t be afraid to tune that voice, take some risks, & piss off a few people.
No one gets it completely right the first time. That’s why we keep throwing ourselves against the brick wall and trying.
Everyone goes through phases, sometimes bad ones. Here’s my philosophy on curbing the bad ones: Indulge. Let yourself have as much and as often of this thing.
Psychology tells us things are counter-intuitive all the time. This applies here.
Scenario 1. You actively refrain from shopping online, but all you think day-in and day-out is ‘just 5 minutes’ on the site. As soon as you let yourself pop open that browser window, all hell breaks loose. I can’t imagine you would drop that visit after 5 minutes.
Scenario 2. You want go to shop? Go shop. Buy all the things. Let it accumulate. Eventually, you’d just be disgusted in yourself for accumulating things you’ll never have a chance to wear. You’ll stop and that desire to stop comes from within. It’ll be out of necessity, not out of self-restraint. And in my experience, self-restraint is not a sure thing. Intrinsic motivation is.
Of course, this is just my theory. Maybe it’ll work for you, maybe it won’t.
And there will be those few things which no matter how much you indulge, throw yourself at it, try to stop yourself from doing it, you’ll keep doing. Those things are your passion. Think about it. How can you make this raison d’etre your everyday reality?
“Product Designer” is an interesting title these days. When I hear of it, I usually assume we are describing a software designer who is product oriented. Or, a pixel designer with a good big picture sense. To most, it still aligns closer with industrial design: one who crafts objects of everyday use. I just find this shift interesting, now, to the main attraction:
Theme of life: Ther is barely enough time to keep up with everything, especially with regards to all your ideas. Thus, there remains even less time left to document and share it! Prioritize, prioritize, and don’t forget about the rest of the world.
When I try out new products, especially productivity products, I find the greatest overarching flaw is this:
The creators always force their mental model onto their users.
I don’t mean to say it in a bad way; I believe the creators have good intentions. (I mean, I’d love it if anyone adopted even bits of my mental model, but that’s not always going to be the case.) It’s just that no one has the same exact mental model for what works. I believe this is why most fail. Sure, it may sound great in theory, but, in the end, it won’t stick if the user can’t emulate their ideal productivity schema into the product.
This is why I believe for productivity tools, it needs to crafted with the idea of not just powerful, but flexible. The tool needs to be powerful in order to be valuable in the everyday, yet flexible so anyone can start using and loving it.
Your own schema is a good starting point, but you need to abstract one level higher to figure out how to get it right for your users. I believe there should be this addendum to the saying: Build something you would want to use and then evolve it to something your users would want to use.