As a designer, I oftentimes find myself fighting through a creative roadblock. Sometimes, it’s constructed of toothpicks and Elmer’s glue. Other times, it’s made of titanium. There are days that I get assigned a new project and instantly start chugging away. No one in the office can distract me from my work, and in mere hours I’m staring at what I’d like to consider a kickass design that I am truly proud of. Other days, I avoid particular projects like the plague. Not because I’m not eager to work on them, but because I know the mass disappointment I will feel by creating unique designs for the same project over and over again that I am simply not proud of.
It can be daunting to try to tear down that titanium roadblock. Sometimes it feels impossible, but I’ve come up with a few tricks to get my creative juices flowing and hope that they can help you when you find yourself in a rut too.
1. Get Weird
I’m not kidding. Do something totally outrageous. Build a castle out of Legos. If you’ve never drawn in your entire life, pick up a pencil. Do jumping jacks. Dance like no one’s watching. I can promise you from experience that the last suggestion works while simultaneously giving your coworkers a good laugh. But in all seriousness, who knew that titanium’s number one weakness is my self-proclaimed amazing dance moves?! Sometimes you just have to be bold, not only in your design, but in how you live your life. If you live a routine life, that repetitiveness will be reflected in your designs. So please, get weird.
2. Burst Sessions!
It is easy to become so consumed by a project that nothing you come up with feels creative. No line of copy is witty enough. No color palette has just the right shades. No out-of-this-world functional revolution is just quite right. Previously, we discussed how burstiness helps us stay creative
. It can be hard to start a burst session off without confidence. Every idea feels lackluster and none of them even worth sharing. The amazing thing about burst sessions is that I have left every single one feeling more fearless than when I arrived. It’s okay that the designer, whose main job it is to be creative, isn’t always the one coming up with the creative idea. Sometimes, you need to look to friends and colleagues to help you chip away at those harder-to-break roadblocks.
3. Find Inspiration in the Unexpected
With any given project, we analyze competitors to better understand our client’s industry and how we can provide them with a better performing, more engaging website. We also ask that they do some research of their own and provide sites they are inspired by. The thing is, if you only look at life-science websites while designing a website for a laboratory, chances are you will be combing through the same layout, general color palette, and calls to action. But, if you expand your inspiration to somewhere unexpected, you can start to break down that mental roadblock. There are plenty of hospitals, restaurants, and hotels that pride themselves on being incredibly sterile and technologically advanced. Looking at industries with similar ideals can help unlock design ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
4. Break the Rules
Pablo Picasso said it best, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” In the world of web where decisions are driven by statistical data more often than the beauty of design, there are some very clear cut do’s and don’ts. Take the F-layout for example. Researchers have found that users naturally read the screen in an “F” pattern, meaning it is best practice to keep the most important information within that pattern. There are times that all of the statistical data can become stifling to creativity. Sometimes it becomes necessary to throw everything you thought you knew about good user experience and design out the window and create something totally off the wall. These bold ideas may never make the final cut, but they sure as hell can get you thinking outside of the box.
5. Give Yourself Time
Creatives aren’t the type to settle on mediocre work, and we’d never expect our clients to settle either. We push the boundaries in everything that we do. We promise to always knock those roadblocks down and deliver something amazing, no matter how much time and effort it may take.There is a chance you can pour your heart into numbers 1-4 and still not be satisfied with the end result. That just means it’s not the end