Every couple of months, I start working on a new project from scratch. That’s super fun. This way, I feel I get much more connected to the product. I have a much stronger drive to create something new and make the product as amazing as I can. This connection with the product has a bad side though. While the deep connection between me and the product is great, it sometimes makes me a bit jealous and protective of my ideas.
Let’s take a few steps back to understand the process and how I got so protective of my ideas.
The birth of a new UX for a product
So, after the guys behind the product (usually product managers, CTOs, developers) get to know me, and our studio’s staff, we start working. This step is basically them throwing all of their information on me, and together,
we take this huge pile of information and start organizing it.
After they have nothing more to add, we take a couple of days for me to think about what we talked about and come up with a UX solution.
When I take time to think about the solution, I’m turning myself into the full artist cliche. It’s time for me to close myself in an empty room, put some Hans Zimmer to make the atmosphere epic, get some markers, and go berserk-mode on the whiteboard. At the end of this session, I usually come up with some ideas for the perfect UX (in my opinion) for this particular product.
After spending a long period of time alone, thinking, I add someone new, probably a colleague, to the thinking process.
My oh my.
Shockingly, my colleagues have other opinions that I have! They don’t base their ideas on the same references as I do, and they haven’t been in my meetings with the product guys! They know nothing about this product!
And in this moment I realized I’m not thinking rationally. Retrospectively speaking, I went through the five steps of accepting other designers’ ideas:
This part is the very short period of time, between the moment I said “Hey, buddy, wanna come in for a second and see my wonderful creation?” and her/his first criticism. At these few seconds, I’m the king of the world. Master of UX. I should get an award this instance!!!
Pros: I’m happy.
Cons: I’m blind as a bat. Although not blind as Daredevil, whose other senses are sharper. Just blind.
“How dare you insult my masterpiece?! I used all my tools I learned over the years! I’ve been in some very long meetings with these guys and I know what’s best for them and for their users!”. As you remember, I am still kind of the master of UX.
Pros: I’m confident about my work. I believe in it.
Cons: I’m a little less blind, but still pretty blind.
That’s the part I’m trying to explain why my design is flawless, why it fits perfectly to the product’s goals and why nothing is better than what I thought about. As deeper as I am in this step, the more sorry I am for how arrogant I was in the previous steps. Suddenly I’m not master of UX, but a dude that knows some things about UX and hopes they’ll work.
Pros: I know why my ideas are good, so I can explain them. Also, I start testing them.
Cons: I’m biased, because these are my ideas. I didn’t see the flaws I didn’t want to see.
This part is mostly in my head.
“Oh, God. I should erase all my work and quit. I’ll hand it over to my colleague, which now seems so much more qualified for this job”. And from the master of UX to the dude who knows UX, straight to total failure. of UX.
Pros: I’m definitely not blind anymore. I hear the criticism. I’m getting familiar with my ideas’ flaws.
Cons: It’s fucking depressing.
In this final step, I realize that my colleague’s criticism has kind of given me the missing piece of the puzzle. I needed to hear this opinion, because now I know how to make my concept better.
Also, in this step, probably my colleague will talk about other stuff, while I have absolutely no idea what she/he is talking about. I’m 100% on my upgraded concept.
Pros: I have a new concept! I conquered my fears! My idea has improved!
Cons: As you see in the pros section, this can get me to the arrogance phase, which leads to the first step, again.
“Thanks, buddy!”, I say, as I close the door and get back to my creation.
While it’s so easy not having this rollercoaster of emotions over your ideas, these steps are important, and they’re important together. It’s very tempting to be confident about your work and be sure that this is the best thing ever. It’s also tempting to just be angry at anyone who disagrees. But after completing the whole five steps, your idea is improved and you are one step closer to the masterpiece you thought you had in the beginning.