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Question 4: What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

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20 Designers, 20 Weeks, 1 Question Per Week

Learn From twenty experienced designers as we go deep into one question every week.


Previous articles in the series (so far)

Intro Article: Get to know the designers
Question 1: How did you get into design?
Question 2: How your typical work day? 
Question 3:What things you wish you knew when you started in design?
Question 4: (you’re here) What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?


“True inspiration is harvested from our everyday lives, and to access it, all we need to do is hit pause on our habitual patterns, open our eyes and ears and nose, and stop taking so much for granted” (Andrew Doherty)


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Simon Pan — Senior Product Designer at Medium, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

Normally when I’m feeling uninspired at work, it’s because I feel a disconnect with the larger mission.

When it’s a small bump, I figure out how to reactivate whatever it was that attracted me to the company in the first place.

Reactivating involves spending more time with customers/users in research, or reaching out to someone else at the company who’s focused on the bigger picture.

When I feel creatively stunted, I find it helpful to step away from the problem and look to other creative disciplines.

My blocks are rarely an aesthetic issue, so I find sites like Dribbble and the superficial imitation that goes on, a poor use of time.

Instead, I’ll read designery/creative books (not UX books), visit art galleries or go outside to get inspired. Doing this allows me to come back refreshed and look at the problem from a different perspective.

If I’m super time-crunched, I’ll reference my goto book: Marty Neumeier’s “The 46 Rules of Genius” and work through the prompts or seek out people to jam with: Designers, engineers, researchers and individuals outside my team.

Where can people follow you?

simonpan.com or on twitter


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Stephanie Engle — Product Designer at Facebook, Menlo Park, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

For me, the most exciting part of design is trying to untangle how people work.

I tend to seek inspiration from human behaviour before looking at other designs that answer it.

I love learning about the weird and surprising ways we function, listening to podcasts like NPR’s Hidden brain or reading books like my professor Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.

When I’m blocked, I try and do anything except think about the problem I’m solving, hoping (praying) subconscious will work it out.

Where can people follow you?

OnTwitter


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Andrew Doherty — CEO, Another.ai, Berlin, Germany

Formerly Product Design Manager at Google, Mountain View

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

Our expectations quickly solidify into routine and habitual patterns that end up making us numb to what is happening in the world around us. Numb as a zombie, we then go shopping for visual popcorn feverishly searching for anything loud and bright and noisy enough to ‘capture’ us.

I tend to find inspiration in the moments when something destroys my expectations and habitual patterns. It’s in those moments that the real world becomes vivid and inspirational.

Yesterday my train was delayed, and I was stuck there on the tracks for an hour, and there was this little mosquito bugging me. My automatic reaction was to kill it, and then scroll through twitter or something.

Instead, I just watched it. I found myself creating a whole narrative for her magical little blood sucking life.

In my story, she was so afraid and upset that people were always trying to kill her just because she ‘borrowed’ a little blood from them. “I’m not trying to kill you! Can’t you spare a little?” I was besotted with her. A mosquito.

We shouldn’t collate a list of noisy and loud sources of ‘content’ that we collectively deem to be ‘inspirational’ and perpetuate the zombie virus.

True inspiration is harvested from our everyday lives, and to access it, all we need to do is hit pause on our habitual patterns, open our eyes and ears and nose, and stop taking so much for granted.

Where can people follow you?

My website or on Medium


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Nirissa Govender — Product Designer at Standard Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa

Nationality:

South African 🇿🇦

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I sign up for daily UI and UX articles. Sidebar does an excellent daily compilation of design links.

Gathering Inspiration — I usually use my browser bookmark and save links into different folders.

I also have a folder on my desktop called ‘Ideas’. When I see something interesting, I take a screen grab and store it in that folder. I often refer to these links and screen grabs when I’m creatively blocked.

Stepping away from my desk and sketching also helps, gives me time to think and explore ideas.

Inspiration sites:

UX Planet
UX Pin, blog
Dribble
Muzli on Medium
Collect UI
Inspiration UI
UI Movement
Pinterest
52 weeks of UX
Smashing Magazine

Where can people follow you?

MyLinkedin


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Adham Dannaway — Senior UI/UX designer, Contract/Freelance, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

Seeing great work from other designers keeps me inspired to do what I do. Each morning I browse my favourite feeds to see what’s happening in the design space.

I find theusepanda.com app to be a useful tool to scan my favourite feeds which include:

Designernews
Dribbble
Product Hunt

I also check my Twitter feed regularly as I follow some great designers who post lots of cool stuff.

When I’m working on a project, and I’m up to the visual design stage, I look for inspiration on the web and copy and paste images and screenshots onto an artboard in Sketch App to create a mood board.

This mood board helps me gather my thoughts and decide on a visual direction for the project. When I get creatively blocked, I find that bouncing ideas off another designer usually helps me find my feet.

Alternatively, I leave my desk and go for a walk or to the gym. Once I come back and start work again, my creative block is usually gone.

Where can people follow you?

adhamdannaway.com


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Ben Huggins — Sr Interaction Designer, YouTube, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I get a lot of inspiration from everyday problems. I also like what Ben Uyeda says about being inspired by bad design.

If you compare your skills with the work of super-elite designers, it’s easy to feel defeated, intimidated, unworthy.

Instead, I’m motivated by the problems I encounter every day that needs better design.

You know when you’re at the airport, and people crowd in front of the aeroplane gate, elbowing each other for position instead of waiting for their boarding group to be called?

That makes my mind explode. Airlines have so many organisational systems in place, but they fail as they don’t map to the way people behave.

Even if that’s not the problem I’m working to solve for my job, it’s inspiring to know I have the skill set to address it. Plus, you never know, when thinking about airport lines will spark an idea about that onboarding flow you’ve been stuck on.

To that end, if I’m ever really deep in a problem, I stop working. I’ll go for a walk, workout, or pick up a more mindless project. Anything that allows me space to think more freely about the problem. Big ideas rarely show up when you try to force them.

Where can people follow you?

hugg.in or I’m @bhuggins on Twitter and Instagram


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Chirryl-Lee Ryan (aka Cheech) — Head of Experience Design at Isobar, Hong Kong

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

People often ask me ‘what does good design look like?’.

Good design doesn’t inspire me — better design does.The world is full of stuff we’ve made — most of it average, at best.

From trying to pay a bill to stay in a hotel, the interactions we have with the world around us are a constant reminder that things can always be better.

In fact, it’s probably the little things that infuriate me on a daily basis that inspire me most.

For example, one thing that’s driving me crazy at the moment is when you’re asked to enter your email address in a form, and text pops up that says “that’s not a valid email address” before you’ve had the chance to finish typing.

I read a lot. Books, blogs and articles, mostly design related, but not exclusively.

I watch a lot of movies and tv shows, mainly sci-fi. And lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts too.

I don’t use a lot of social media, but I do use LinkedIn, and I find a lot of great content via my LinkedIn contacts.

I use Pocket to save and categories any web links in one place for reference. I have an iPad Pro, which I use for watching Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for video, and Kindle for books.

I regularly attend and participate in industry and non-industry events. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded people.

Recently I’ve been trying to create a better work/life balance by dedicating more time to my health and well-being. Exercise and getting enough sleep are perfect for staying motivated.

When I’m blocked, feeling down or anxious, I turn to my close family and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the small stuff day-to-day and overlook the bigger picture when you’re neck-deep in work commitments and deadlines.

There’s nothing quite like a good vent on the phone or coffee or brunch in person to help refocus and stay grounded. Sometimes, just having someone who is willing to listen makes a big difference.

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin


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Charbel Zeaiter — Chief Experience Officer, Academy Xi, Melbourne & Sydney

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

A recent entrant into my life, Chirryl-Lee Ryan, visits Melbourne from Hong Kong every six weeks or so.

She’s the Head of Experience Design for Isobar, and the title doesn’t do her any justice.

Our conversations go deep, and they cover the role of Design and Designers as activists and disruptors as well as the gamut of social responsibility.

I read as much as I can in my limited time; I find Medium a relatively good source of thought leadership pieces; it takes a while to filter through some of the clickbait.

Over the past few months, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with The World Economic Forum and the FYA reports.

I’m also lucky enough to travel between Sydney and Melbourne, so I get to meet our Instructors in both cities and as much as I can, have a chat with our students.

People’s motivations, dreams and backgrounds fascinate me, no matter what, people are still my greatest inspiration!

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin


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Audrey Liu — Director of Product Design at Thumbtack, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I like to wander, so I’ll often visit museums, bookstores, or go on a long walk to keep myself inspired.

Libraries are also an excellent way to surprise yourself with a book that might spark an idea or two.

Additionally, when I can, I’ll attend talks or a small conference.

Oh, and I listen to podcasts such as Radiolab, How I Built This and Ted Talks.

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter


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Nick Babich — Development Team Manager, Ring Central, Russia

Nationality:

Russian 🇷🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I often find inspiration in everyday things (such as paper books and posters). I have a lot of colour combinations, visual hierarchy and typography inspirations from this non-digital medium.

People in our industry can be a significant source of inspiration.

I follow:
Jared Spool
Luke Wroblewski
Peter Merholz
Don Norman

Other digital resources:

Visual inspiration:
I use Behance as a source of inspiration when I need to find case-study-like inspiration. Dribbble is great if you want to find a good visual/motion design.

Blogs: 
Smashing Magazine
Alistapart
Designmodo
Nielsen Norman Group blog

Where can people follow you?

UX Planet, Twitter , Facebook


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Paola Mariselli — Product Designer, Facebook, Menlo Park, California, USA

Nationality: Peruvian 🇵🇪

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I’d like to say I have a great system with bookmarked websites and scheduled dates to visit them, but the truth is I bookmark websites that I then proceed to forget and ignore completely.

My most reliable source of inspiration has been people.

We all know those co-workers and friends who we can approach when we’re feeling tired and devoid of creativity. Chatting with those kinds of people and collaborating on work keeps me energised and inspired.

Another source of inspiration is life outside of software design.

Whether it’s reading a good book, travelling, or taking a random class (hello beekeeping!) helps me make connections I wouldn’t otherwise make across industries and products.

Sometimes, it’s also good to just take a break and let ideas percolate.

Where can people follow you?

Twitter or Medium


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Kymberlee Ide — Vice President, Experience Design (CX & UX), McCann

Nationality:

Canadian 🇨🇦

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

There are a lot of things that inspire me.

I believe that creative inspiration is an output of education and awareness, so learning is essential. And in this field, you always have to be learning, and you must evolve as a result. Otherwise, you’ll get left behind.

Some of my bookmarked sites:

Smashing Magazine
Facebook Design 
Google Design
Shopify’s UX Blog
UX Booth
Little Big Details
Dribble

I also read a lot of #design articles that come through Flipboard and LinkedIn.

When I find myself uninspired or creatively blocked, I take time away — either a simple walk outside, a weekend getaway, or a full-blown vacation. For me, taking a break and resetting myself always gets the creative juices flowing again.

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin


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Alessandro Floridi — UX Manager at Deloitte, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

Italian 🇮🇹

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I find talking to people and observing them is the best inspiration for me.

There are so many beautiful websites out there where is possible to get new ideas, although I try not to focus too much on what’s cool now.

I prefer to think beyond micro trends and read about very different topics like philosophy, psychology and history.

Inevitably you get stuck on a problem in every project; my approach is to get out of the office to try to reframe the question I was trying to answer.

Focusing on different activities works well for me.It’s amazing to discover how our brain can still keep solving a problem for us, even if we are not actively thinking about it.

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin


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Leslie Chicoine — Experience Design and Product Management Consultant, Denver, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I’m a designer, in large part, because I love seeking to be inspired. Finding inspiration is an essential practice in the discipline of design.

Inspiration serves many functions including developing your taste, thinking beyond your current restraints, understanding your user’s expectations, or purely seeking to ignite more passion for your work.

For that rush of inspiration, I follow some UX and visual designers on Dribbble, visit art museums as often as I can, and try to discuss passion projects and work with my fellow designers (who doesn’t like talking about their work?).

I like to ask to see sketchbooks. It’s always amazing to see how others think!

I also get a random splash of new stuff from Muz.lievery day.

For strategic design thinking my go-to source of inspiration is reading. From fiction to pop psych, I find that most books create a very nutrient rich atmosphere in my brain for rethinking my current problem sets.

Using new products and being a thoughtful consumer also provides a lot of fodder for my thinking. How could the line at the grocery store be better? Why do I love a company or product? What similar experiences exist out there that apply to my product? I’m a big believer in not reinventing the wheel.

Where can people follow you?

My Instagram and Twitter


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Buzz Usborne — Product Designer at Help Scout, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

British 🇬🇧 and recently Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I wrote an article about this a while back: Where to find inspiration

I’m inspired by things outside of my discipline. Architecture, fashion, photography, illustration and branding all make me excited to jump back into a project, and inspired to try something new.

As an example, I was recently looking through a photography project by Murray Fredericks which inspired me to consider different ways to show perspective and depth in UI without just putting shadows on everything. I ended up producing some work I was pleased with. Proof that you can find super important inspiration in the weirdest places sometimes.

As for creative block: if it’s minor, I’ll go back to sketching ideas out on paper, or I’ll spend some time to see how others have tackled a similar problem with:

UI Garage
Pttrns
Dribbble
Nicely Done

But if it’s bad, these days I know better than to keep pushing — I’ll usually switch to a different type of work, like design support for an ongoing project, prototyping or writing.

Failing that, the computer goes off.

Where can people follow you?

My work at buzzusborne.com, my Twitter, my writing on Medium and my resume on Linkedin


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Kylie Timpani — Senior Designer at Humaan, Perth, Australia

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I’ve never been one to browse through web galleries or look directly to other websites or apps for inspiration. I find this is to be more limiting than it is inspiring because I end up becoming too concerned with not being ‘enough’ — not original enough, not trendy enough, not clever enough, not ‘wow’-enough, etc.

It detracts from the problems I’m hired to solve and places the priority on satisfying my design-anxieties instead of the brief at hand.

Instead of purposely seeking inspiration, I unconsciously find inspiration by investing time into learning about a variety of topics by reading, experiencing and asking questions.

I work to widen my perspectives as much as possible so that I’m able to consider problems and craft solutions more broadly, not just within the confines of my bubble.

Of course, this isn’t fool proof and just like anyone else, I experience creative block. Sometimes a crippling amount.

Creative block are closely tied to the way that your brain works. Learning to understand what happens when your brain is in its different flow states will help you to understand how you can tackle your flavour of creative block.

The following things work best for me in overcoming creative block:

  • Walking away: Personally, creative block is a total manifestation of design-anxiety. Something not looking right or not working right is usually because I’m designing for the wrong reasons. Time away helps me reframe my thinking.
  • Talking it out: If I can, I’ll discuss my problem with someone. By verbalising my thoughts, I’m able to organise my thinking and see things I wasn’t able to see previously.
  • Revisiting the problem: If something isn’t clicking, I’ve usually missed something. I’ll take a few steps backwards and reassess the problem to formulate a new and clearer path forward. You’ll find that the problem is often the solution.

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter and also on my Dribbble for haphazardly timed insights into my work.


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Graeme Fulton — Writer, coder, designer at Marvel Gibraltar, UK

Nationality:

British 🇬🇧

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

I can be quite inspired when I’m a bit pissed off.

When I’m annoyed with something, that’s when I write my best stuff anyway. For example, in this article, if you read between the lines, there’s something that annoyed me in there.

In thisarticle, I was fed up of being put in a box. Using frustration as a fuel to make something positive is cool.

Apart from that, I find people inspiring — those who have built companies from the ground up or are just making cool stuff. You can learn from their mistakes, and follow what worked for them. Getting around the right people is pretty important.

For day to day inspiration, Dribbble, Muz.li and Product Hunt are great. Seeing so many makers shipping their ideas is inspiring!

It’s also good to get away from the screen and the design industry in general. Being exposed to different settings gives you more points to join dots from ✈️.

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter


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Kaiting Huang — Interaction Designer at Google, in Seattle, USA

Nationality:

Taiwanese 🇹🇼

What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?

Generally speaking, for visual inspirations, I usually go to Dribbble and Pinterest.

For interaction inspirations, I often look into competitors’ apps or other apps in the same ecosystem.

For product ideas, I recently discovered the How I Built This podcast wherein each episode, one founder from a well-known company shares his/her founding journey.

On top of that, I strongly agree with the quote:

“Creativity is just connecting things” by Steve Jobs.

There are two aspects I focus on to increase the chances of that “magical connection.”

The first is to absorb — broaden my general life experiences to build up the foundation of things to be connected, such as reading, traveling, learning new skills, talking to people, etc.

The second is to create — regularly produce work to practice “how to connect” or otherwise creativity can get rusty. The latter isn’t limited to design. It can be any form of creation, such as coding, writing, giving speeches and playing music.

Where can people follow you?

My Medium


If you enjoyed this..

Read the other articles in this series

Intro Article: Get to know the designers
Question 1: How did you get into design?
Question 2: How your typical work day? 
Question 3:What things you wish you knew when you started in design?
Question 4: (you’re here) What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?


Before you go

Clap 👏 👏 👏 if you enjoyed this article, so others can find it
Comment 💬 if you have a question you’d like to ask the designers
Follow me to read all the articles in the series


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