In Everything, Find Purpose

It really is as simple as that. As a software developer, business analyst, or even project manager, you will find yourself tasked with designing user interfaces no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Clients will tell you how they want it to look and act, others on your team will provide input, and at the end of the day you’ll have to come to some decisions. This process may not prove all that difficult, but I want to provide you with a handy trick I use when assessing whether a UI design decision is the right move. Ready for this? Here it is:

Look at each decision you’ve made, and simply ask, ‘Why?’

Links should be blue, you’ll decide. Next action: Why?

Each time we use the word MagicTouch in a headline, it should be followed by an ® symbol. Next action: Why?

A client will say to you, “I think it will look better if this text is center justified, rather than left aligned.” Next action: Why?

Stopping to ask why? will force you and others to think about the actual intended use of a feature. It will push you to think about user behavior, instead of random decisions. And most of all, it will teach you that you actually believe in what you’ve designed, because you’ll know you’ve thought it through. If at any point you can’t answer the Why? intelligently, you’ll know you have some rethinking and potentially redesigning to do.

This concept should be applied outside the world of design, as well. When you come to a decision, it’s never a bad idea to test it out with a well thought out Why?

In the end, it’s all about finding purpose. In everything, find purpose.

And with that message, I would like to share the news that I have decided to move on from ThoughtWorks. My time here has been tremendous and purposeful, but it is time for me to go try something new. If you read my blog via ThoughtBlogs, I invite you to subscribe to my RSS feed, because it likely won’t be displayed here much longer. Thanks, ThoughtWorks. I’ll miss you.

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