I must be quick. Yesterday it was too late and I was too tired to write my worklog, so I left it for the morning. But the morning came too soon, and I find myself leaving the albergue extremely late, yet unwilling to leave without having written my work log.
Yesterday I pretty much finished the first beta version of write.now, the tool I'm building with René Galindo. It's been taking longer than usual. The reason is because we've made a huge detour to understand what the product is and where it is going.
Most design is not creative, it's iterative. When somebody asks you to design a brochure website, you are not resolving a product design problem, you are resolving a graphic design one, since you are making use of well established patterns. What it creative is the visual solution to the problem (unless you use a template).
In creative product design, there is no such thing as resolving a problem on the first try. I suppose, if you were a mystic designer, you could channel the spirit of a product from the platonic universe, but designers as these have not existed in the history of mankind. It would be an impossible mixture of Johnny Ive with Jackson Pollock.
So, we've been working on this for about a year, and we came back to the same starting point. The route traced a big circle around a valley, we that there were many paths leading outside the valley, some better than others, and we even set our foot on some of them. In the end, we're bringing back the product to its starting point, with some idea about the path we're going to follow up ahead.
The Hospitalero arrived, I must cease writing activity, I'll continue later.
I'm at the next albergue, I will resume writing where I left off...
The creative task is difficult, and not everybody can do it. There are ill defined constraints because you don't know exactly what you're building, and you must feel comfortable in the outmost uncertainty. You must be ready to throw away all your work and begin from the ground up time and time again. You must be able to move around blindly, knowing your position by bumping into things.
In this domain no design technique helps. Think of the iPhone before the smartphone era, can you make that leap by doing user stories? usability tests? personas? That will only improve what you currently have, it would only make a better Blackberry, but it would never make the creative leap required to break into new territory.