Time.  Quality.  I found the two at odds in my first few projects.  I would pour over the details of the assignment and follow the instructions to a T.  It wasn’t working so well for me, though.  I would get caught up on non-essential details and before I knew it, hours had passed.  How do you find balance when both time and quality are precious commodities?

Designers must always ask this question:  How can I make the most impact with the least amount of time and resources?

Give me all the time in the world and I’ll take it to design the perfect solution that you may no longer need.  Give me a deadline and I just might deliver a near perfect solution that we can discuss and tweak so that it’s ready when you need it.  This is the iterative approach. Designers must always ask this question: How can I make the most impact with the least amount of time and resources?  After all, it’s not only your time that’s precious but also the users’.

Principles in design can be used in learning.  A designer starts by doing some market research to find out what problem they want to solve and if their idea will provide a solution.  In other words, what value they are looking to create with the project?  Then they hash out a minimum viable product (MVP).

So, what’s the MVP in learning?  Decide what it is you need to learn and choose the components of the assignment that are essential to learn it.  Work on those first, then if you have time, you can add other elements and polish up the presentation.

The main difference I have found between school and a self-paced, mentor guided, peer-reviewed course is that I’m not here to “make the grade” and get a high score on my SAT’s.  I’m not here to please anyone.  I am here to learn and to practice.  I am here for me and for my future clients and teammates.  This is my journey and I am the best one to say how much time and effort I need to put into the project in front of me.

My mentor, Steffen, helped me to realize this and then to refocus.  Focus on results.  What am I looking to gain from this exercise?  Am I trying to learn new software or is it the processes of research and comparison that I will most benefit from learning?

When a designer can clear out the clutter and make the essential shine, I believe that same clarity will be reflected in the user experience.

New tools used in this exercise:

Moat Ad Search – search for a brand’s existing digital ads

Alexa Traffic Rank – access statistics from Google’s analytics on any website

Google Alerts – have Google email you alerts on news/posts on any topic of your choice