If you want to thrive in your life, rethink the design of everything around you

There are ways you could be happier and you don’t know it yet. I’m not talking about obvious unattainable life improvements like having Idris Elba for a partner, or owning a villa in Tuscany.  I’m talking about changes you can make in an hour, or in a few months, or next year that are unclear at first but obvious in retrospect, that simply require asking good questions (okay, and sometimes money).

Our lives can always improve in small ways that can have a huge ripple effect. Sure, we adjust quickly to improved circumstances, and studies show that our happiness level will return to what it was. But using this as a reason to never strive or improve anything is such an unimaginative Eeyore perspective because changes don’t have to be big. I’m not saying you have to get divorced, move to the sea, and become a lesbian— though I can personally vouch for it! I’m saying that when you make a change in your life that delights you, and your happiness quotient returns to what it was, relax— there are 20,000 more changes you can make that can produce delight, relief, or both. It’s exciting! Life can always change!

This is design thinking. It’s making people happier and more productive through changes and iterations, and it applies EV-ER-Y-WHERE. (The term is overused and bloviated, as Natasha Jen explains in this excellent 99u talk, “Design Thinking is Bullshit“, but I’m not using it in this way.)

I’ve got two personal examples of what I mean.

Read More

Advertisements

Our company’s first racist rejection letter

I’m trying to establish a better morning routine than checking my email almost immediately upon waking, but this morning I was sleepy, up a little earlier than usual to tie my son’s high-school-graduation-photo tie and make him breakfast, and operating by habit.

I picked up my iPhone and checked my email from bed. A rejection message caught my eye. I had recently applied through a popular service-to-client matching freelance site to help a real estate company with their website. The rejection said,

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 8.31.46 AM

“Natasha, I will not be using your company. I think that it’s lamentable that you would feel the need to bring up race in your profile description.”

Unable to recall what I wrote in our profile so long ago, I gave Mr. King the benefit of the doubt. Did I write something ambiguous about race (weird— I loathe ambiguity in communication)? Did I misspell something or misstate something? My heart caught in my throat as I feared that I may have been accidentally hurting people of colour for months through poor writing.

Eventually, after mining through poor UX design, I found the link that would let me read my profile description. I sighed and shook my head.

What lamentatious thing did I say?

Read More

vintage illustration of woman working at computer

How to expect to pay for creative services

“How much do you charge for a logo?”

“What are your rates for a website?”

I sigh when I hear this. It’s like saying to a mechanic, “My car isn’t working. How much would you charge to fix it?” But while that may sound obviously silly, people are less familiar with what goes into design work, so… here goes:

We have a list of about 15 or more considerations we make before we price out a contract. Until our custom calculator is set up, a lot of thought goes into putting together a quote we think is fair, affordable for the client, doesn’t run too much of a risk of scope creep for us, and which is all-around worth it for us to take at this moment in time.

Here are seven of the considerations:

Read More