Working With Feedback


The diagram here is an engineering schematic of a feedback loop. The triangle is an amplifier or signal generator, like your stereo, or your creative or coding output. Engineers have learned since the 1840s that the output of any signal source is best controlled and targeted and refined through the use of feedback – in this case the wire going from the output of the triangle back to its input via a black box. You use this every day when you move a mouse around the screen – visual feedback- try closing your eyes and clicking a button in Photoshop to get a feel for a world without feedback.

Now, why the black box? What is it doing to the creative output before sending it back into the creative input?

It could be a creative director, a UX designer, a focus group, or a client. Often, though, it is simpler than that.

A 1 minute conversation about your project with anyone (doesn’t have to be a potential user of the content, nor a fellow UX media developer) is a good thing. In fact, the more differentiation, the better. They can be the black box.

Blinding common sense or inspiration are both products of thinking along a different track. By definition, you are too close to the project to see things obvious to those outside it. If you need a different take on things, it’s not going to come from thinking harder. A new perspective comes from new people much more easily than it will come from you.

Self Limiting Realism

During implementation and execution, you typically find the devils in the details that threaten to throw an initial creative direction off track. Solving the details tends to close the mind a little to the big picture and possibly better solutions. You can also become protective of work already invested in a direction that may be better put aside for a fresh approach. It takes someone outside looking in to make these tough decisions sometimes and to let you know when you are spinning your wheels with a small detail when the effort could have more impact elsewhere.

Have you ever worked on a detrail of a design or implementation, and then had someone have a look at the project and be wowed by the simplest element of it? The one you put in in 5 minutes, and not the one you spent 5 hours on? That’s perspective, and in this line of work (creative media and UX deisgn) the person looking over your shoulder should be listened to, as they are ultimately more like the end user of your product than you may be.

So, call your mom, have her look at the design. Find someone unlikely, find someone without a peice of their time or pride on the line, who can offer you the very valuable design tool of First Impression.

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