7 fundamental truths to live by as a UX designerDesign wisdom from monks, mystics, maestros & truth-seekers.

1. Start with “I don’t know”

Its extremely important to come to this simple understanding…if you destroy “I don’t know”…you destroy all possibilities of knowing…you destroy the very longing to know.

Knowing is limited. “I don’t know” has infinite potential.

In the beginning, I am convinced that I have no idea how to solve this design problem. It’s always a blank piece of paper.

What really sets great designers apart from others is that they never lose the ability to look at every problem with a beginner’s mindset even after decades of design experience.

Its nearly impossible to generate new thoughts, ideas or perspectives until we clear out what is already teeming in our mind. ‘Empty your cup’ is not just Zen philosophy, its an essential first step in the creative process.

2. Experience User = User Experience

The secret to good user experience is experiencing the user.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Awareness needs clarity of perception. What you perceive is what you know. The rest is just your imagination.

The quality of experience is fundamentally based on belief systems. Every human being on the planet is a philosopher. A philosophy is something we concoct to create psychological comfort and a feeling of wellbeing. Everyone has a philosophy that they live by. You need to figure that out to really understand someone.

Simply observe. Really observe people, just the way they are, without adding the ‘masala’ of your own biases.

3. There is no such thing as an “original” idea

All design is essentially a manipulation of space and time.

All ideas are just the recall and repackaging of the heap of impressions in our brain.

Fundamentally, Design is not creation, its transformation.

It’s about combining old ideas in new ways.

All creative work builds on what came before.

4. Think big and small

Thinking in ‘powers of ten’ or understanding scale using the ‘the effect of adding another zero’ has the power to make us better designers.

The atomic is the building block of the cosmic.

Experience is the accumulation of a thousand tiny moments.

5. Make room for emptiness

Its not always necessary to have water to convey the idea of it flowing.

Eliminate everything extraneous.

The moments of pause between streams of perception are what allow us to truly savor an experience.

All experience begins from silence and goes back into it.

Between the signal and noise is silence.

6. Design is not just about perfection

Perfection can sometimes be boring. People are not perfect.

Embedding “pleasant mistakes” into design can make it fun and not just functional.

Engagement comes from earned success. Flow comes from optimal level of challenge.

Balance the minimal with the whimsical…efficiency with emotion.

Sometimes, good experience is the flip side of convenience.

7. Create > Protect > Destroy…repeat

Continuous design improvement & evolution requires a balance of all three forces.

When things aren’t going well, we tend to think we are lacking in something. But if we want to change our current situation, we should first part with something before we look to acquire something else. This is a fundamental tenet of simplicity.

Discarding things we are attached to is painful and usually very difficult but the moment we detach, a new energy and abundance flows into the experience.

Content Sources:

  • Jaggi Vasudev
  • Hans Zimmer
  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Charles & Ray Eames
  • Shunmyo Masuno
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Oki Sato
  • Steven Covey

Image Source:

  • Cherry Blossoms, By Minimo, illustrationagent.com

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