Why shoes, you might ask ? Apart from the obvious analogy of stepping into different feet, shoes represent a universal product that symbolize the perfect marriage of functionality and aesthetic while also reflecting individual personalities almost seamlessly. This is why I decided to illustrate my design process through the versatile and yet humble analogy of shoes.
I believe the key to success is empathy at every stage of an idea. The ability to place yourself in the feet of others who will all interact with your idea (or product as the case may be) through their unique lens is key to gain new perspectives and add value to every stage of the process. This journey will impact meaningful change and allow for the creation of something that more people can relate to, engage with and feel a part of.
Taking this thought further, once you get a brief or even just stumble upon an idea with potential, consider all the different points of view and perspectives that need to be gained in order to become an effective designer, marketer or communicator as the field may be.
Crocs: Classic and come in all shapes & sizes
Consumers, much like Crocs come in all shapes and sizes. All too often, the work of designers and marketers involves anticipating the unarticulated needs of consumers even before they comprehend what that might be. Placing yourself in the shoes of potential consumers is always a wise way to consider if it is an appealing idea and how it might be perceived in a crowded market place. Does it externally reflect all that you envisioned it would and what might it’s core value be?
Flats: Field work filled with unglamorous candid integral moments
The integral work of a researcher is often unglamorous and behind the scenes but entails such a crucial and unavoidable part of any process. Insights thus garnered enable a smoother design process, helps fix gaping holes and identify potential proportunities (problems that could lead to opportunities). Thinking like a researcher is vital so one may consider how easy/difficult it is to reach your target. How long might this take? Essentially, what is the crux of it all- the real problem you are creatively attempting to solve?
High heel boots: Get Knee deep in ideation. Obvious Functionality + heels which represent the Visual/Aesthetic elements.
Thinking like a designer is an empowering stage, at least to me, as this is the stage I can directly relate to the most. At this point, the world is literally your oyster (pearl included). Unfettered by convention and all that exists, dream the impossible. However, through this beautiful phase of reaching for the stars, remember the shoes you are in. These heeled boots symbolize functionality and aesthetic at once. While one has to be willing to wade knee deep, explore and detail every nitty gritty that exists, every step of the way it is worth redefining the intentions and thoughts behind the idea and execution constantly looking at it all afresh.
Oxfords: Versatile & Diverse
Clients, much like consumers come in all shapes and sizes. I’m using Oxfords to represent this genre as clients too have evolved a lot since the days when these traditional shoes emerged in their classic form and are now concerned with a variety of new and relevant issues. Oxfords range from formal to casual and everything in between. Each client is unique and require different outcomes from projects. Thinking like a client is very helpful as the unbiased lens of an invested outsider can help zoom into the specifics that need to be fixed. It can also prove a useful tool in defining and perceiving created value.
Rugged Caterpillar or Workman shoes: Create products that endure and echo quality
It is no secret that dreams require collaborations and the collusion of numerous different skill sets to be materialized in a tangible way. To this end, caterpillar shoes which are rugged workman shoes symbolize the hard work and the toil that goes into creating products and the ideas that endure representing quality for years to come. Being able to think like a manufacturer can often help simplify unwanted convoluted steps and cut right to clean, cost effective solutions that are also pragmatic and contextual.
Sneakers: Always on the move
Now imagine you have created this fantastic idea/ product that you truly believe in. What’s next? It’s the job of marketing specialists, communicators and advertisers to make the world see the value that you do. Sneakers are durable, hardy and always on the move akin to this inspiring genre of people who have the reach and influence to communicate and convey the potential in your product. Placing yourself in their shoes can help you focus on the core benefits of your offer, how easily it is translatable or universal and how can you break it down into a simple comprehensible idea that people from all walks of life can relate to.
The bottom line is the real world is a rough place to be in outside of the hallowed protected walls of school. There will always be someone bigger, maybe even better and definitely with something flashier than you have. If you have conviction in what you do, that will never be a deterrent. In fact, competitors can often be a great learning tool. You don’t have to make every mistake in the book and touch fire to feel its heat. All you often have to do is look around to see missed opportunities, lessons and the things that could be done differently to build on those areas and create your own path. You learn as much as from failure as you do from success and perseverance might just make all the difference.
Perspective theories in art/ design drawing/ architecture state that objects set at different angles each have their own vanishing points. In my personal view, design thinking is much the same way. If you aren’t successful in looking and dissecting an idea from every possible angle, very soon it just might disappear into the ether of the distant horizon.
Lets think up some big ideas together, shall we?