UX | Take a step back to boost your creativity
World of Digits / Explore
UX designers are meant to be creative. Not only to deliver a clean design but also to be creative in terms of connecting with users. You need to have a very broad vision to be able to empathize with other people’s situations so that you can come up with a suitable but simple solution for them. The best designers can create the most user-friendly experiences with the most simple designs. Like Itsme, for example, which makes it possible to identify yourself via various platforms with just one click. Some people have a natural talent for creativity and imagination to come up with such solutions. But even with that gift, you can sometimes get stuck.
Many UX designers are familiar with the problem of a creative block. It’s the moment that you can no longer think creatively and your brain says: pfff I’m not sure anymore. This is the moment you must take a step back, because you cannot force creativity.
While working on a design, you can get caught up in daily routine and patterns. Step out of that routine for a moment and unwind so you can approach the problem again with a new perspective.
But how do you make the most of this moment of low creativity? To find the answer to this question, we looked for testimonials from experienced designers. Their experiences of overcoming a creative block were inspiring and a reminder that even the most experienced designers sometimes lose sight of things. As mentioned earlier, some people have more of a talent for creativity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn or stimulate creativity. Eventually, we found a total of 6 ways to stimulate creativity and to spend the time of creative block wisely.
Do something else that doesn’t require thinking about the problem that you want to solve. If you are busy, you can for example complete work tasks that do not require much thinking at all. Other options include exercising, meditating, taking a hot bath or even taking a day off to really take some time for yourself. That break from your blocked thoughts will make room for new ideas. Physical activity in general is highly recommended when you are feeling a lack of productivity. A 20-minute walk every day is enough to improve the connection between different parts of your brain. This connection makes it easier to solve problems in a creative way.
UX design is a hot topic online. You can find UX articles (e.g. on medium.com), inspiration (e.g. on dribbble.com), etc. everywhere. The risk is that you get stuck in the context of your own field of expertise. Then you might start imitating design work from others without thinking about it too much. To get you out of this fixed thinking pattern, it is good to explore other subjects. E.g. watch the news, listen to a podcast, read about other disciplines (fashion, psychology), visit a museum, scroll through twitter,… By doing this, you shift your thoughts and may be inspired to try something new for your design.
Talking to friends, family members, colleagues, etc. can help to put everything into perspective. By simply venting about a e.g. difficult project, you can look at the situation from a different angle. Sometimes you realize that there is a solution for a problem by explaining the problem to someone else. By doing so, you will be able to better understand the big “Why?”, which will make you understand the essence of the problem you’re trying to solve better.
One of the main reasons for a lack of inspiration is the excessive pressure at work. Stress is a real inspiration killer.1 of 6 Belgian employees have a burnout or symptoms of a burnout. The figures have skyrocketed the past years skyrocketed. Many people lose their selves in the amount of work which means that they can no longer focus on one task at a time. Your focus goes straight to achieving deadlines and your mind is no longer open to creative exploration. The same applies for designers. If you don’t have enough time to absorb information, it is difficult to think creatively about solutions. So getting your work-life balance under control is really crucial for getting your creativity back on track.
A UX designer creates user experiences by looking at the preferences and needs of users of a product or service. So you actually need some good people skills as a UX designer. By going out and talking to others, you further enrich your people skills. For example, go out with friends or talk to someone in the supermarket. You will soon notice that people share their experiences, motivations and ideas during everyday conversations, which can indirectly inspire you later on.
In one day, you have several interactions with products and services. Some interactions go smoothly and others do not. You can also learn somethings from these everyday interactions, so it’s certainly good to reflect on them for a while. Be a critical customer and think a bit more about everything that happens around the product. In what other ways can I use this product? Why do I choose this product and not the competitor’s? For example, why do I look for non-alcoholic drinks in the alcohol section in the supermarket and not in the soft drinks section?
All the methods above will help you to get through the creative block period and will enable you to work on a design with a new perspective afterwards. But the best thing is of course to proactively stimulate that creativity and even to plan moments for it. Everyone is different and it helps to find the method that works for you. Also try to gather inspiration through sketches, notes, bookmarks in your browser, etc. Your new experiences, insights, your acquired peace of mind and enriched people skills will positively influence your skills as a designer in the long run. So go for it! It is your turn now.
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