in Design, UX

When we don’t build

There is an amazing talk by Wilson Miner titled “When We Build,” sharing his observations about our role as product designers in the new digital world. But what happens when do won’t build?

Sometimes you become complacent, but the creative brain never dies, it still wants to think, solve problems and design solutions. In my role at General Assembly I am experiencing elation watching my students rapidly evolve into user experience practitioners. While I am sitting there helping them grow, I find myself walking home every day feeling a little unsettled.

After some reflection I realised that I’m not infused with an action, I’m not working towards something tangible.

At the beginning of the course I began sketching every night as a drill to keep my hands busy and fluid. That drill and focus quickly turned into an indispensable design tool: it developed into a habit.

On Friday morning I was early for a meeting, I found myself pulling out a small notebook and drawing shapes, keeping my hands busy. My hands have now become conditioned to generate whenever I have a spare moment. The frustration of not building took a daily routine and transformed into muscle memory.

I was taught early on in my career that when you see your pencil, a sketch and the work that you are put into making something so simple, your creative wisdom grows. When we build, we become product designers, create stories symbolic of the milestones and moments in the lives of other human beings.

These ten weeks have infused my need to create. I have returned to my pencil and notepad, wireframing screens that I’ll never ship and constantly reading. I am not passively waiting for things to come my way when I can do them by myself, right now.

At this moment I’m not building an actual product, but I am helping to build tomorrow’s designers for the new world.

In four weeks I step out of my role as teacher and return to the world as designer. I’m excited.

We should work together.

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