I’ve started painting again after 8 years away.
I had no idea how much I missed it, but I regained a connection that I had been missing for a long time. And it’s funny, painting has even given me a better perspective on my day job as a User Experience Architect for Johnson Controls.
It’s not just the painting part that gave me this perspective, but it was the actual decision to start painting and the studio space set up in my house.
The first thing I needed to start painting was an easel. One that was big enough to handle large canvases and still be adjustable enough for small ones. I searched the internet high and low and all the easels that would fit my needs were in the $200 range – blew my mind! And, they weren’t exactly what I was looking for.
So I decided to build one. I didn’t have a plan, just an idea in my head. I drove to the hardware store and bought $23 worth of wood, clamps, screws and washers, and then went back home to assemble it. It all took about 4 hours and the finished easel exactly what I needed.
After building the easel, I needed two other things:
- A table to put all of the paints, brushes, palette, rags, water jars, etc
- A space to put all this stuff in
I cleared out a space in my basement and made sure it was comfortable, had good light and was arranged to work best for me.
Then it hit me like a ton-of-bricks – this is what everyone truly is looking for in their lives. They want spaces that are comfortable and fulfill exactly what they need, nothing more, nothing less. These spaces can be workspaces, software they use, web sites they visit. Whatever it is, people want to arrange their spaces in a way that is comfortable to them!
In the past, I searched for structure that people could live with and a uniform way of doing things that works for everyone. I mistakenly believed:
- There has to be a linear way to get people to complete tasks
- The task always is the focal point
- Most people complete tasks the same way
My painting set up works for me, and only me. Others would come in and immediately rearrange it to make sense to them.
As we move into this user experience era, I am coming to realize that a huge list of features and functionality in applications is not what most people are looking for. They want something that is comfortable and does exactly what they need it to do.
Simple customization needs to be at the forefront of experience design and user interfaces. People want to set up those “spaces” to work best for them. Getting all the non-essential things out of their way to get what they need done.
It’s time we let them.