Know what you like and tell your team
We recently hired our third designer at @carezoneteam, Scott, and to get him into the team and get started working together we did something I have not done before but which turned out to work really well. We spend some structured time discussing what we find beautiful and well designed. Personally rather than professionally.
Walter, Brittany, Scott, and I started with pepper grinders and then moved on to houses, guitars, and all kinds of other products. Take for instance the Oxo measuring cup, is it a brilliant new solution to an age old problem or is it a break with tradition that messes with what a measuring cup should be? What makes a guitar? The shape, the materials, the sound? Is the Parker Fly a well designed guitar despite being made from composite materials rather than wood? And the Steinberger, Obviously still a guitar but has it lost its beauty or maybe surpassed more traditional guitars? If you lived in a house from early 1900 would you decorate it as the appropriate for that time period or would you tear everything out and modernize it? Can a modern kitchen be beautiful in an old house? Do you like minimalism? What about change? Are historical things inherently good?
You know this and we know this: we are not designing for ourselves. But as designers we are interpreting data and creating solutions and regardless of how hard we try we cannot ever be objective, our point of view will always play into how we solve problems. That is in my book an asset and not a liability, it’s what makes my designs different from yours. But if you have to work together it helps to know where everyone else in the room is coming from, it helps appreciate their interpretations and solutions.
I love the design of the Oxo measuring cup. It does not require any new knowledge or any new behaviour. It just solves a problem better than any of the previous thousands of solutions for that challenge and it shows that regardless how much people have worked on a problem there is usually still room for improvement. That is why month view in the carezone calendar let you see two full weeks of the next month. That way you can always see three weeks out into the future, something that most other calendars I have seen does not let you do. I will always try to look for a better solution even to problems that have standard solutions like signing in, form validation, etc. This means I will often introduce something new. That is not always the right thing to do but now that the people I work with know where I am coming from and understand what I value they will be able to help me see when the change is not a good idea rather than think I am introducing change for the sake of change. And hopefully also appreciate when the change really is needed and good.