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I’m sorry. There are no methodologies to a great product.

What we need is creativity. And there are no methods to be creative.

Well, but if we do field research, understand the user’s mental model, shadow them, study their ecosystem, create personas, perform a SWOT, draw user journeys, write user stories, come up with features, prioritise them, develop them and test them back with the users. It will lead to a great product right?

Not Really. Not Always.

I should clear this up before you either stop reading or scroll over to the comments to show disagreement: I am not saying that the above processes don’t work. I am saying that if you let the process control you instead of you controlling it, you are in for a hectic journey with a painful & disappointing end result.

In the midst of chasing deadlines & targets, sprint reviews & refining the endless mindless product backlog, we might have forgotten why are we doing all this? This post is to remind you: We are trying to make a great product. And, great products rely on constant identification of the problems(through research methods) and creatively solving those.

If we look at the gantt chart of a designer, you might see research, testing, wireframing etc etc. but chances are you won’t find a time dedicated to ‘creative problem solving’. The problems that we find from our user research/testing deserve equal amount of energy from us to come up the right solution. Not just any solution. The right solution. This is what distinguishes a great product from a product that ‘just works’.

I am a UX Designer and a music producer. Last year, I released an album with 6 tracks with no formal music theory knowledge. The album was taken better than I expected, and I wanted to produce more tracks in less time. Time to learn the theory. Time to learn the methods to make great music. I read a 1000 page book on advanced music theory(on my phone, which killed me) and sat down to create the greatest piece of music in the world.

I produced the most boring track on the planet in 2–3 hours. Now if we ask,

Was I productive? Yes. I did produce a track.

Was I efficient? Yes.(a finished track in 3 hours!)

Did I make a good piece of music? Let’s just say, I burnt it alive.

Was it a complete waste to learn the methods to compose music? No

Then what went wrong?

This: I gave too much power to the method, to the theory. And less to my intuition, my creativity.

Now, I understand that making music is not the same as designing a digital product(even though there are more similarities at a psychological level than you can imagine), but what I am trying to say is:

When designing a product, or solving a problem, if you give too much time and energy to the processes you read in a book, that you have no time and energy left for creativity, you might end up with a boring, maybe ‘successful’ but a lifeless product.



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