I am not my user, and neither are my friends who are also designers.
When I got wind of a new idea for a web application that would help my sister I was so excited I immediately got on Photoshop and started to lay out the GUI. Yes you read that right. I immediately started to lay out the graphical/branding/look and feel of the user interface. And this is what it looked like:
Pretty cool right? Well here are the issues:
- Skilled Student was already taken
- Black/dark backgrounds are is bad for the eyes
- How in the world am I going to get gold text via html and css?
- Black and gold aren’t colors normally found in the education industry
- Children are no longer learning how to write cursive and therefore don’t know how to read it
- I have not done any research.
Research saves lives
I started conducting expert interviews with my sister asking questions. Gearing up to start a focus group. I wanted to tackle the branding first. Figure out what exactly this web application would be about. I looked at what was already out there that she needed and was using. I simply wanted to make it better not reinvent everything.
I saw that “Skilled Student” was taken so I went with “Skilled Scholar”. I made notice of what I think are awful color schemes of the education industry. I found a few color schemes that didn’t make my heart hurt and a few fonts that I could live with.
I did some research on color psychology and found what I think is the perfect color scheme for SkilledScholar and the user interface for the web application.
When it came to picking a font I took my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and my closest friends as well as my sister and my developer for their vote. My developer as funny as stereotypes are, choose an option no one else did. Teachers and friends with children picked one option and those who were designers chose something completely different.
Moving forward I will ask my developer what they think if they like it or not. I want my team to be onboard with the branding of an application they are building from the ground up. However, never will I isolate myself to their opinions. I will ask my friends who are designers for critiques in terms of execution and not so much if they “like it” or not, they aren’t the user. I AM NOT THE USER. The user is the user and so the logo that captured the hearts of my targeted audience won.
The plain, sans-serif font, clearly won
But I was rooting for the first option. Yet upon being reminded that our youth isn’t learning cursive anymore I had to choose the sans-serif option as well. As another friend and design pointed out it was very plain. So I changed it up a bit.
Once again I took to my close design friends and development team.
But the votes where to widely spread, so I went post them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and the last one won. It came down to two. One option was clearly chosen by designers and the other was chosen by teachers, people who worked with children in someway and parents.
The targeted users had spoken
Now it was a matter of just picking the color scheme and figuring out how to use it on the logo. I put together many options. Stepped away from them for a while and then went back to look to see what popped out. It got me to one color scheme and layout but I wasn’t convinced. Not yet.
I had incorporated grey but I really wanted some brown
I had issues with the grey, I had unresolved issues with the small details of the logo disappearing so I looked for other solutions. None of which I loved and neither did my development team.
We hated all of them
I would say that the advice about not going back to changing stuff up after it has been decided upon stands true. I needed some reassurance. I needed to try out everything to make sure were weren’t settling. So I gave it one last shot and I was shut down.
I was satisfied and put at peace.
I had taken all my lingering thoughts and ideas and put them out for the team to see and they didn’t like it. So I folded, I found a way to incorporate brown instead of gray and we have a finished logo a color scheme for the web application.
Whatever you do, do it for glory
I am about to get a bit biblical on you. If this were church I would say do it for the glory of God. So let’s get real, when you are creating an interface for anything less than to be the best, to win an award it is just something created to fix a problem.
Research, Design, Solve and Build solutions that are ground-breaking. If not then there is something else out there that would’ve solved it. You would’ve easily solved the problem without all this work you put into to just “solve a problem” to just “shut a user group up” to just…to just isn’t enough.
Sure you’ll be helping a few people, but that’s just a few when you could help a whole multitude of people who didn’t even know they needed to be helped!
If you think your design is that “ish”, judge not before the appointed time. Until your designs are reviewed by a panel of professionals. Until word comes back if what you’ve put together is as great as you think it tobe. Well do you even think it’s that great? Are you proud of your work?
Design something you’d be proud of.
Conduct your research in a way to create something ground-breaking. Find places where others have failed and you can reign. If God is in the details, be specific.
If someone else can get credit for something you put together, it isn’t your work, not really, you just brought a few things together to create something different, but not something new.
Glory is achieved when people can see past the well crafted design and pickup on something unique, something new, breathtaking and they can put their finger on it. Whether it be a feeling or an action that is felt immediately and they then go back to see what exactly it was. That, now that’s glory.
I do beg of you tho, do it for the service of your craft, your industry, not for the popularity. Exploit the process not the designer. Be concerned about quality of your work. Quality research begets quality analysis, begets quality design, begets clean code, begets quality service. When you have doubters, people who wish to question your approach, you’re on the right path.