October 25, 2022
Feeling uncertain or anxious about a design is a normal phase of any project. Easing into it is not simple, but an essential part of doing outstanding work.
Sorry to break it to you, but we can’t grow unless we step out of our comfort zone. The most successful designers and companies in the world know this very well, so they try their best to use the uncertainty to their advantage. We can only wonder about the specific ways to do that, but let me give you some of my insights.
During my career, I have come to realize that our actions in design should be based on user feedback. The users are at the forefront of our application. They are, in fact, the ones that create it – we just listen to them and provide anything that they might find valuable.
Feedback might be a double-edged sword though. Imagine asking one person for it. You get valuable insights that you have not thought of before and compile a plan for improvement.
Ask two people. If they have more or less the same views, this is a great sign that you may be heading in the right direction. Ask three people and you may be presented with a trend that supports your decisions or makes you doubt them.
Ask more users and this is where it gets tricky. You get various answers that you can’t wrap your head around. You are so confused about the future direction that you might just freeze, losing valuable time. What was the point of getting the feedback in the first place? To move forward and innovate. Now it may seem that everything you’ve done so far is completely wrong, because it isn’t appealing to that many people.
If you’re in this situation, just breathe and don’t stop with the process. Use the feedback as inspiration and realize that it is your opinion that makes the work worth it. Feedback is essential, but the question is how much you let it have an effect on you. There is always going to be somebody who doesn’t like the design. Somebody who doesn’t see an added value in it.
Realize that there ALWAYS is a unique added value that you bring. Don’t be fooled by the haters and just do what you think is right. Embrace the uncertainty and confusion and never let it define you. Only this way can you move forward.
I hope I’ve made you look at feedback from a different perspective. Now, let’s talk about embracing uncertainty that might arise. The feeling doesn’t have to be caused by the opinions of others, but anything really.
Design is like art. Some will absolutely love it while others not so much. Even the most valuable paintings in the world are sometimes labeled as boring, uninspiring and too simple. Where’s the truth then? Depends on the subject looking at it.
The truth is, if you have passion for your work, you will never lose enthusiasm to discover new ways of doing things. This is associated with natural curiosity. Feeling uncertain is stressful, but it makes you dive deep.
This way, you can discover new trends, learn about your competitors better and figure out the ways to provide a product that your customers will love. What a great opportunity to grow as a professional as well as a person.
Never stop asking questions like “why?” and “what if?” – because these are the ones that will propel you towards innovation and genius ideas. Never stop being honest – don’t ask your customers questions that are focused on making a sale. Ask questions, because you want to understand them better.
Even though our work is more on the creative side, we still have to make short-term and long-term plans, execute and get quick results. It’s natural that in this kind of environment, you seek certainty and make assumptions that provide it to you.
You may assume that you know your customers to the smallest of detail, and sometimes even predict the future. However, if you don’t support the assumptions with real data, consider them useless. You have to go out and test them in the real world. If they prove to be true, you get a feeling of certainty that is lasting and based on facts.
Some people avoid the feelings of uncertainty because they dread feeling uncomfortable. As I said in the beginning, you can’t grow unless you step out of your comfort zone. Realize that it's fine when the path in front of you is not that clear. Or when you are not in full control.
Learn to love uncertainty, because it opens doors to infinite possibilities and vast potential for growth. If you’re feeling anxious about a project, think about why you started with it in the first place.
I started with design because I love doing it. Whenever I feel uncomfortable, I think back to these beginnings. This gives me extra motivation to step into the unknown and do my best to keep up.
The last insight I am going to share with you is a bit more technical. If you feel uncertain about the operation of a design, build it at low cost and release it to the world.
Even the process of prototyping will provide you with inspiration on how to solve problems, how to make the product as accessible to the customers as possible, and what next steps you’re going to take.
Secondly, you will get valuable feedback that will help you make improvements. Just don’t let it get under your skin too much and always trust your instincts. You have everything you need to create amazing designs. The canvas is yours. Now, let’s do some art!
What helps you when you feel uncertain? Give me some tips right on my Twitter @BilekUI.
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