Intuitively speaking

“I’m a big believer in the emotion of design, and the message that’s sent before somebody begins to read, before they get the rest of the information; what is the emotional response they get to the product, to the story, to the painting — whatever it is. That area of design interests me the most, and I think this for me is a real clear, very simplified version of what I’m talking about.” David Carson (Ted Talks).

I am a big believer of this theory myself. It is kind of ironic considering the fact that I am a writer by profession and not a designer. But they are all the same aren’t they? While I paint a picture with words, there’s a proud graphic designer out there waiting to turn those words into a visual feast!

In any facet of visualization, emotions play a very vital role. There is a school of thought termed ‘intuitive designing’ which, needless to say, is self learned and cannot be taught with a generic 4 step method in some snazzy B-school classroom. But like a lot of classics, this art is limited to a niche pool of creatives (if not completely extinct) who put their hearts before their minds while designing.

Intuition is that gut feeling of being right when everything else says otherwise. This idea is usually very vague and may read to others as ‘What the….” But for you though, it is a very potent catalyst. And it is very essential for you to realize its potential. It is my intention through this blog, to sort of get that ball of ‘intuition’ rolling in your heads and get you to contemplate your next masterpiece with a whole different set of eyes.

“I know kung-fu” – This is the epic line from movie ‘The Matrix’. It signifies a time when Neo intuitively assimilates terabytes of data ranging from cooking to martial arts to even philosophy. Realistically speaking one would take years to master a single kung-fu style (what Neo mastered in a matter of seconds). However it reinforces my argument that intuition is not god sent but is drawn from personal experience. As users, we come pre-loaded with existing knowledge. But just like we need to read the full manual before using a product, this knowledge lies dormant within our minds and needs to be harnessed. That’s why the so called ‘flashes of brilliance’ are in fact reckoned by experts as your intuitive side trying to splurge out. The down side of this though is none of us will ever know what triggered our intuitive phenomena. Tom Kelly, the CEO of IDEO thinks contrary though. He suggests in his lecture that we can train our minds to frequently be more intuitive (if not at will). He said “Try writing a thought down on a piece of paper before going to bed. That way even when you are asleep, your mind will be pondering on that question or idea all night long. Now, you may or may not get the answer that very morning, however as time passes, your subconscious will get active and learn how to get your ideas filtered through an intuitive decision. This means that now your brain will not just thing better, wilder and bolder, it will also learn how to put all your ideas into perspective and thus get you a final output that is both unique as well as viable. “Too much assimilate? Let’s rewind a little bit and move back to our original discussion on visualization and design.

It is the designer’s job per se to build an interface that minimizes the knowledge gap.What is the knowledge gap? Well it is that sweet spot between what your target already knows and what you want to communicate to them. This can be tricky because users typically have a broad range of current knowledge. But if you hit that spot, your brand will receive the right attention and retention it needs. To achieve this one must cultivate a few habits. As I mentioned in the paragraph before the above, about writing a question a sleeping on it, similarly one must learn to seed their thoughts. ‘Seeding’, in this case has a very profound connotation and is imperative to have cultivating an intuitively driven” thought process. To boil it down remember this – “How else will you know, if you do not think about it?”

Observations are the best way to stimulate the brains. Simply watching people over a cup of coffee can give a lot of insight on your target audience than working with hollow point focus groups. A stroll at your local super-mart can tell you about the shopping habits of your target audience than conducting surveys (in which most responders will give biased answers).Keep a pad and a pen handy and note all these observations. Also note down your ideas, one-liners, or any piece of creative insight/content/design that you come up with no matter where you are. I usually prefer taking notes and snapshots on my smart phone and usually go back to it whenever I am creating an idea. Not only does it save time, it helps me explore facets of the world around me that I have never observed. My brain is full of observations, experiences and ideas that my brain can automatically go back to and draw inspiration from rather than just looking at series of poorly created stock images from Google.

Another way is to be the 10th man. The concept is that in a board room of the 10 people, while 9 are pro an idea, there is a 10th member whose duty is to reject the idea and work towards proving the other 9 members wrong. In simple words, be your own critic and work towards proving your theory or idea wrong. This way you will have all the points where it can fail and by the time you launch it, it will more or less be foolproof!

Be curious. I cannot begin to stress on this aspect. In fact in most of my articles, I prefer jotting this aspect down because it is the most crucial element for any creative process. And for intuitive designing, it is an elixir of eternal life. How else can you feed your Intuitive side if you are not willing to explore.

When it comes to being an intuitive thinker, anything and everything around you can be a catalyst or the trigger to awakening that part of your brain. And all it takes is an open mind and a warm heart to release the hounds of your creative imagination.