Working with a broadcaster at a sporting event, my job was to create the graphics that would be used on the show.
Of course, you don’t just rock up to an event and make the graphics that day. There are weeks if not months of work involved, partnering with the broadcaster as well as the other design agencies involved.
Was it easy?
It shouldn't have been a challenge. I mean, I got the design brief on time, it was as clear as day and everyone was agreed about what was going to be delivered. Right?
I didn't get the complete design brief until a week before delivery, there were big gaps in my understanding of what was required and at least two people giving me direction had opposing opinions about elements of the design brief.
So when I turned up on the day and the graphics “didn’t do what they needed,” I wasn’t surprised. And, importantly, neither were they.
Setting expectations …
The first thing to go right happened a few days before the event: I talked to the client.
I told them what was achievable and what wasn’t achievable, e.g., you can have this functionality in your dynamic graphic, but it won’t do that.
I also advised what they could do to swing the balance (what I needed from them if they wanted to achieve more). They did what they could. So, on the day, they knew what to expect. Sort of.
… And breaking expectations
Because they knew what I could deliver and what I couldn’t, there were no unpleasant surprises. They had already accepted the unpleasantness. So when I found time to make adjustments on the day, to add new graphics and functionality, and to listen and respond to their gripes, I was able to exceed their expectations.
It’s not about lying
It’s about being completely clear about what you can do perfectly, what you can’t do perfectly and why.
Then, it’s about leaving yourself enough breathing room so that, under the right conditions, you can improve things.
Then it’s about listening, it’s about being versatile and hard working at the final crunch, and it’s about showing your passion for their project.
So, this week’s design lesson: Versatility shows passion. Make sure your client sees that. But temper it by setting expectations or you risk them mistaking passion for desperation.
(From my bloggy blog)
As a Paddy, you could say I am used to the rain. You could even say I am passionate about it. You might even say I obsess about it. But whatever you say, it doesn’t change the fact: Rain helps me work.
Apart from its cleanliness, removing people from the streets, giving me freedom even the big city to stretch my arms, apart from the gorgeous patter of it on my shoulders, making me feel both connected and disconnected at once, apart from the wildness it gives to the window panes on my commute home, rain sounds lovely.
It sounds peaceful.
So instead of listening to music (or other people’s conversations) during work, I started listening to rain.
For work, I’ve got the Rain Simply Noise tab open all day long. Ahhh. That’s better. For the commute home, I’ve got the White Noise - Rainy Day app on my Nexus 5.
No more listening to and taking part in irrelevant conversations. No more getting bored of my media library. No more unnecessary distraction, anxiety and stress. Just put on my headphones, take a slow breath and drown out the noise.
If you’ve got your own methods of relaxing while staying productive, please share!
(From my blog)
My world has been inverted.
If you find yourself sleep deprived, without Internet and reeling from the terrifying awe of panic and excitement, you may find this helpful.
1. You won’t get any more proper sleep. So figure another way to get energy: chat to people, be friendly, be positive, be curious. Friendship helps. From 55 Ways to Get More Energy:
Turn off the Internet and go socialize with friends. Humans are social animals, and we need regular socializing to keep ourselves in peak health and energy.
2. Alternatively, listen to some rain noises on your phone and snore on the bus. There’s nothing nicer than drifting off with exhaustion on public transport, with your mouth ajar.
3. When you’re in work, without Internet, use it as an excuse to drink shit loads of tea and coffee, chatting to everyone you’d normally reach by text. You won’t be efficient but you’ll make more friends. See 1.
4. As for actual designing, you won’t have any reference materials for inspiration. Eek. So get your smartphone and, on the way to/from/during work, take pictures of funky billboards, interesting compositions and fashionable people with brave color coordination.
5. Or get 4G and tether your workstation to your phone, you lucky bastards.
6. Lastly, remember this. Since you first watched those childhood defining films, remember that everything they’ve done since has been utterly soulless. DON’T GET EXCITED. Just don’t.
Taken from my blog.
As a productive person, it’s the key motivator. If you care about it, you do it. But it’s hard to care about every job that comes your way. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be talking about how I coax myself into caring so I can tap the biggest motivator.
This week, I’ll be looking at the day-to-day.
As a broadcast designer, I’ll often handle big jobs that stretch beyond a couple of months. Not only will I have to liase with the client, I’ll also be managing the project, creating and presenting the artwork and building the final product. I’ll work with the field team to organise installlation, the development team to collaborate on key features and the account managers to manage the politics and cashflow.
It’s a weighty undertaking and, to be honest, sometimes it stresses me out. All those things! All those, little, tiny things that other people have to do, that people are expecting, waiting for, asking about over and over. By the time I’ve dealt with all the management, I sit down at my PC to do some creative work and … fizzz.
Nothing. I know I have to move my mouse pointer over to Photoshop (or whatever) and I can’t do it. It feels so heavy. The thought of starting something new, not dealing with all those other problems that are raging in the background, sometimes I can’t click that button.
Because I don’t care. I just don’t care. I’d rather plant my face into the keyboard and drool myself into a sleepy bliss.
It’s all about perspective. What I really need to do is sit back and think about what’s going on, why it’s important and what it means to me, Sebastian, the designer and teamworker. But I can’t be bothered.
By the time I’m ready to snooze on my keyboard, it’s too late. I’m already burnt out. So, let’s rewind to the start of the day, when I’m not burned out. Let’s imagine me coming into the office, sitting at my PC and doing something to make a difference. Reeeewind.
I sit down in the morning and open up a file. I call it “Today’s Plan Daily.” This is my secret journal, personal, safe, mine. No one else can look at it. It’s a place for honesty.
In here, I’m going to spend six minutes taking a view of the bigger picture and that will change everything.
Today’s Plan Daily
* What’s On.
* Why it matters.
* Post Mortem.
Every day I fill it out, in that order. What’s going on today that I know about? Not all the itty-bitty tasks, but the upcoming deadlines, the priorities, the dependencies. Like this,
"BlackBug have been in touch again and they are looking for a deliverable at the end of the week."
After that, I think about why it matters. Not why it matters to the business. Why it matters to me, my idea of myself, my mission as a designer and a team player (more on that next week). This is where I get to bring my own goals into the everyday. For example,
"This is a great chance to get a good portfolio piece for me and the company. It’s also an urgent avenue into the development department, maybe help out and exercise some more Ruby."
Next, I list my intentions. What do I want to achieve? How will I know that today has been a successful day? Only put down the most important details and cover the rest with broad strokes.
Also, I try not to overestimate my output. Underestimating is, oddly, a much better motivator for me. If I believe I can achieve it, I feel great. It gives me a buzz and I keep on working. Conversely, if I think it’s going to be a major struggle, I … struggle. For example,
"Try to help the dev team understand what’s left to do. They need to know what’s on otherwise the deliverable is going to fall short. As for you, see if you can set up a placeholder project, ready for the assets. You don’t have to go the whole hog. Just set her up and make it ready for tomorrow."
Lastly, the post mortem. Look at what I wanted to achieve, talk about what I did, what obstacles came up, what helped me work and what didn’t. I make some time at the end of the day and consider what worked for me. What did I learn?
"Did lots of good implementing. Had a bit of a lull in mid morning after the meetings but got the headphones on and made up time. Just putting something in my ears, the way it knocks out the world, almost makes feel like I’m in another place. Great for my focus. Must write a blog about that. Also, everyone knows what’s going on. Feel like we’re moving forward."
Why it works
It works because it helps me make decisions (“I’m not working on that today, it will have to wait”).
It works because it helps me understand what I need to do (“Don’t spend all your time getting that timeline tool finished, you need to focus on the deliverable”).
It works because it gets me excited. This isn’t a gruelling deadline pushed at me, whipping me into activity. This is my project, for me, a designer. I get to do what I love and take one more step toward it. And you know what?
I actually give a shit.
(Taken from my blog)
This design won Best Design 2013 for the San Diego University HCI competition at Coursera. It's a touchscreen application for android devices, helping people to find events they can trust.
It took around six weeks to build, from needs testing, to wireframing, to the high fidelity prototype shown here.
- University of BradfordInteractive Systems, 2000 - 2003
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