Web Designer = Problem Solver

One of the first conversations I had with a creative director focused on what he looks for when interviewing a candidate. He told me that the number one thing he wants to see in a person is that they are a problem solver. That really stuck with me. Every website has the challenge of moving it’s visitor in a particular direction.  Whether it is to increase sales for a car dealership or increase membership for a church every website should be the solution to a problem. How do we get website “X” to produce deliverable “Y”?

Clients have goals they want their website (and their business) to meet. The road to getting these goals accomplished can be fraught with layers of challenges that take tenacity as well as skillful patience to understand and then overcome. As a web designer, you have to be able to see the solutions that the client can’t get to on their own.  The solutions themselves can be completely unexpected but should always make sense.  When I think of ‘problem solver’ I can’t help remembering a ship in a bottle I had as a kid.  I used to stare at that thing for hours wondering how they got this beautiful ship that had so much painted detail into the bottle.  It was impossible… and yet it was right in front of me.  It was like looking at magic.  When I finally found out how a ship in a bottle is made I was flabbergasted at how simple (and yet painfully skillful) the process was. That same ship in a bottle now sits on a shelf in my son’s room. I think problem solving as a web designer is similar in that the resulting product should be just as awesome to the client as that ship in a bottle was to me.

That’s what I love about web design. You get the opportunity to create a solution for someone that they couldn’t do themselves. Just like magic.  #bethemagician

My Education Via Twitter

When I first wanted to start researching web design the first thing I did was go to Twitter.    Go to Twitter?  What? Well, I’m the kind of guy who likes to learn by saturation and the easiest way of plunging into the world of UX was to start following UX designers.  Everyday I would hop onto my feed and skim over the comments of people I admired, respected and trusted.  Of course there were a lot of ‘Here’s my breakfast’ tweets and ‘I hate it when people tweet about their breakfast’ tweets, but I found a lot of great nuggets in the stream.  Tweets introduced me to the concept of seductive interactive design, the artist Fabien Barral, and super cool conferences.

 

Initially, being a fly on the wall via tweets was a lot like drinking from a fire hydrant.  It became very overwhelming very quickly.  So, when faced with a problem you gotta come up with a solution, right?  Here are some rules I came up with for myself to help me sort through the tidal wave of daily sound bites:

 

  1. Be selective.  I only followed people whose work I admired & who were (mostly) tweeting content I wanted to hear.
  2. Keep twitter surfing time to a max of 30 minutes.  This safeguarded my productivity big time.
  3. Investigate at least 2 reputable links each day.  This is how I pushed myself to go deeper.  Even if the topic was something I was completely unfamiliar with I found it to be interesting and was expanding my knowledge base.

 

These 3 rules helped me to turn twitter into more than just a social media outlet for me.  It became my source for insider info and great tips.  I didn’t understand all the jargon at first (and I am googling terms still) but after a while I felt more comfortable.  I was able to zero in on the interesting things faster.

 

And I am always looking for recommendations on who to follow.  Got any?