When it comes to creativity, there’s one thing I really hate, and it’s stubbornness, which I often find when meeting people who’ve worked in the industry for too long. One of my biggest fears is becoming one of these stubborn old-fashioned guys.
My father was a technophobe. He had never understood smartphones and had an old Nokia while other people sold their iPhone 5 to buy the new iPhone 6. The thing is, my father wasn’t being technophobic because he was stupid, it was because he was too old for it. Like the saying goes: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, I guess you can’t teach the old man how to use new smartphones.
Old Dogs And New Trends
As a UX designer who also designs UI, I’m frequently asked to have a UX review to decide if something is designed well or not. The decision I’m having is based on my knowledge and experience, but mainly it is based on my personal taste. Every once in a while I stumble upon a design which is based on the right principles, but just doesn’t seem right to me. But who said I’m right?
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a web design that was great, as a basic idea, but I found it too naive and childish – It was too colorful and a bit “too happy” in my opinion. After I’ve finished my review I was still a bit confused, because I couldn’t point the bad part in the design, besides my taste. I mean, it did get the user from point A to B, it had a good structure, and it seemed like it would make the user happy.
That feeling haven’t left my head ever since. It made me think that maybe that design is actually really good and I’m just being a stubborn minimalistic-design-douchebag. I mean, maybe I’m locked on my set of rules based on style principles dictated by companies like Apple and Google, and can’t accept other ways of design.
Am I Getting Old?
Let’s take snapchat for example, I don’t have any idea what really happens there. I know I can apply funny filters on my face and make myself look like a puppy or a princess, but I also know there’s a lot of other stuff in there, like “stories” or “memories” (for example – This morning, I think I accidentally posted a selfie from the bathroom to the whole world to see, instead of directly to a friend). I mean, I’m familiar with Facebook’s timeline – you post something, you get feedback and it’s all saved under your profile. Snapchat is just not understandable to me. I just feel too old to get this.
All these getting old thoughts made me realize – our users are going to be the young generation – the people who understand Snapchat and don’t know what the floppy “save” icon stands for, and that really changes the game. I know what I like and what I’m looking for in the products I use, but I have absolutely no clue what Snapchat users are looking for. Do they really need notes to arrange their thoughts, or do they need an app that records them and transforms their thoughts into a talking rabbit animation?
Open mind as a key to success
Of course, if you develop a habit-forming-product, your users’ habits become what your product dictates them, but generally you don’t develop a habit-forming-product, so you really have to learn and have a deep research about your users. As I progress in my work I understand I have to know to pick my fights. Sometimes an unusual design is stupid, but sometimes it is the new design trend, and if it’s a new design trend I need to learn and acknowledge it. You don’t want to be the person who said the new successful design trend is shit.
I think the first step of understanding the new trend is figuring out what is its purpose. If it’s about design – what does it stand for? What is it supposed to make the user feel?
After we understood the purpose, we need to find out how is the trend supposed to serve its purpose. What motives does it use? Is there a research to support it?
The last step is, of course, try to think if this trend succeeds at its task? If it does, it’s probably a good one.
To sum it up, our world is changing. New trends come and go and if we want to reach our users in the best way we have to learn what they are experiencing these days, and not what we experienced when we were at their place.
Do you remember an example of a trend you didn’t get or a product that made you feel old? Tell me about it in the comments!