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Creative Director of ArtVersion, a Chicago design consultancy. We craft ideal user experiences for the world’s most innovative companies.
Intuition in design is — and will most likely always be — a slippery slope. It depends on whether or not the designer utilizes their inherent creativity and research skills in conjunction as a cohesive delivery system. Like most anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to take this approach.
Moreover, intuition by nature lends itself as a subjective tool and doesn’t always translate to clients the same way it permeates the mind of the designer. If intuition were a living, breathing thing, it would be a puppy in search of leadership and guidance. Taking steps to train your intuition within this vernacular will help you avoid having to lay newspaper all over the floor of your creative space, and allow it to grow to attain independence with informed decision-making strategies.
The keyword here is informed decision-making. To successfully tell the story of a product or brand so that it’s relatable to its users, it is imperative that we do our research to inform our process.
For instance, when Raymond Albert Kroc ate at McDonald’s for the first time, he could tell the product’s potential for success. His intuition told him that he had to find out everything about the company and the people behind the creation of this wondrous trifecta of brand, product and service. As his intuitive process began to garner insight into the cardinal opportunity to help expand the business, he knew he wasn’t just telling a story but sharing it. The McDonald brothers were solving the problem of getting a hot meal in no time without the hassle attached to the preceding drive-in model. By breaching the minds of the original auteurs who conceived McDonald’s, Kroc was simultaneously tapping into the minds of their consumers. The connectivity that was forged between their marketing and consumers brought a sense of family, safety and reliability to their overarching story. Fast forward to now: Brand-marketing history has been made, and the designer of success in this story goes by the name of Intuition.
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Like a lot of things, there are a thousand ways to cut intuition’s pungent flavor so it emulsifies nicely into a savory design-casserole. But there is only one proper delivery system for this, no matter how it’s cut: research. However you attain the required information for your designs — whether you’re employing heat maps, demographic, psychographic or socio economic breakdowns, analytics or one-on-one interviews — the research must be as close to impeccable as possible in order for you to juxtapose these findings with your intuition to gain accurate insight before moving forward.
For instance, if your intuition is telling you that your client’s website needs a stronger call to action (CTA) in a specific place, you might refer to heat mapping your client’s site to see how many clicks and hovers correlate with those specific points. However, before putting your research skills to work, you were using your intuition to infer that the activity regarding these specific CTAs wasn’t performing at the standard you or your clients were anticipating. You started referring to your creative intuition for guidance. Now, you’ve done your research, and you can safely conclude with evidence that your intuition was speaking some truth, so you proceed with your edits. As time goes on and as you implement this practice, your expertise and wherewithal coagulates, slowly solidifying your position as an authority in the field, yielding trust with your clients and respect in the industry.
This same process translates directly as a UX/UI designer. Taking intuition and exercising it like a muscle with proper technique rooted in research and discovery will ultimately position you as an expert in the field, with authoritative integrity, storytelling ability and client trust. As you continue on your journey to fine-tune your style while balancing your product’s demand and clients’ needs, your process will become second nature, and your decisions will transcend you from designer and storyteller to artist.
Digital design continues to implement these concepts and has taken on the task of maturing the realm of creative storytelling rather than simply “checking the boxes” for technique, animation and rudimentary content hierarchy. We are no longer creating websites, platforms and applications that simply map out predetermined steps for a user when engaging a product or brand. But rather, we are moving into human-centric spaces that speak to our audiences as individuals, putting meaning behind what it is they’re seeing on the screen while also tapping into the collective consciousness of users. Telling a great story has the potential to activate users like carrier pigeons, propagating a product’s message throughout the collective space.
Profitability and good storytelling go hand in hand, now more than ever. Intuition is the key that can unlock our greatest storytelling capabilities and achieve maximum profitability. And with that mentality, designers are competing to set a new standard, steering innovation with the intuition seated in informed connectivity.
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Author: Goran Paun, Forbes Councils Member