I am one of those designers who gets physically ill when confronted with a particularly egregious design mistake or a complex problem that assaults my design sensibilities. My heart rate quickens. I get sweaty. Sometimes I get a red flush on my face and neck. Usually, followed by a headache, mild nausea and general malaise until I manage to solve the problem. I’ve lived with this for a long time and even publicly discussed it on the Internets on several occasions.
There are some advantages, though. Especially for my clients. I am highly motivated to solve their design problems, even if it’s just to make myself feel better.
Until the solution is at hand, I’m angry. Angry at the problem. Angry at the people who created it in the first place. Angry at others who didn’t try harder. Angry at technological barriers. Angry at our lack of understanding of cognitive processes. Angry at the tax it places on my enjoyment of life and the burden it dumps on users. Anger is often my motivator to slice through design problems.
The payoff is the heightened feeling one gets when the problem is solved…all the more sweeter as it comes after an anger-coated adrenaline rush.
Apparently, I’m not alone:
This is why most dorks and nerds fail to launch start-ups that last. The technology is good and the applications can be fun but they approach a problem the wrong way: to a nerd, a problem is fun. It just doesn’t make them angry enough.
Product managers worrying about adoption curves for their new application should stop concentrating on features and look to the emotions and the experiences of their customers. Consumers change behaviour through anger. Skype, for instance, tapped into a general feeling in the market of “I’m angry at my telco”.
Jeff Bonforte, a senior director at Yahoo!, talks about anger driving innovation in a podcast at ITConversations.
I’d love to know if anybody else feels the same way.