Advocate for the experience not your design

I frequently become emotionally connected to my work as I’m crafting it, a practice I’m trying to eliminate. It’s actually quite amazing how I see myself in my work, and when I don’t like something I’ve done I violently discard it. And yet, when it’s something I’m happy with, I nurture it, I envision how it will grow, and how others will of course compliment it. To this I say:

When we start a new project we often work with it one on one, at least in its infancy. Even if you’re working with a team your piece of the puzzle is most likely yours and yours alone.

It’s not until we have matured our wireframe, design, pull request, documentation or chunk of code that we feel comfortable sharing it. It is at this junction you have a choice to release your emotional connection with your work, or risk being bound to it.

One thing I’ve grown accustomed to, is sharing my work with my team (we’re hiring by the way) as soon as possible. The earlier I start getting critical feedback, the faster I can iterate, and the less likely I am to have fallen in love with what I’ve built.

Spending too much time alone with your work may result in a bond that makes it hard to be objective. At that point critical feedback can result in defensive maneuvering rather than logical debates. Fresh and new ideas that have been forked from my own can be seen as an imposter trying to one up my own work. User testing can be clouded by questions that lead rather than uncover. It goes on and on.

Not to be confused with designing for or with emotion

You should bring joy to people through thoughtful design! But, you can’t without empathy, and even then you shouldn’t become overly attached to your work until you know the value it brings. You shouldn’t eliminate emotion from your work, just be aware of your emotional connection to it.

Only after others have had the opportunity to interact with and love your work should you do the same. At that point you become an advocate for the people who use your products, rather than an advocate for your design.

Have you ever experienced an emotional connection to your work that has clouded your judgement? Come chat with me and others about it on Twitter.

One foot in front of the other

It’s taken a long time to realize this but it all starts with the first step. Whether it’s work, life, or health setting very tiny achievable goals will always lead to more challenging goals.

For example, in the past every time I would set out to lose weight I would get on a diet, buy a gym membership, new work out clothes too. Soon I had this exhaustive plan to get me to my goals.

In the end it never worked. I put too much emphasis on the plan and not on the results. Today is the 4th day in a row where I went on a two mile walk before or after lunch.

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At the beach, the half way point

This is how I’m starting all over. I’m starting with a plan to just walk 10 miles a week (outside of normal steps). If I can go on 5, 2 mile walks a week I’ll reach my goal. After a month or so I’ll tweak the plan, make it more challenging and continue.

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Programmatic video ads

I did some searching for portable air conditioners and found myself on HomeDepot.com. Later I was viewing something on YouTube and this ad came up.

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I personally don’t prefer ads that follow me, but I understand their value and was actually impressed with this video ad. You can tell that Home Depot is programmatically inserting imagery and voice over based on what you are currently shopping for, but that’s the most impressive part.

Kudos to the marketing and development team working on this.

Today’s Office

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When you work at Automattic you love what you do, and can’t help but work on the weekends from time to time. Early early mornings are the key to not letting it get in the way of quality family time.