For a little over two years, I left work and went to a particular bus stop on Elliott & Western in Seattle. So I spent a little time every day looking at this building, near the base of a hill leading up to the Queen Anne Hill area.
One day, for whatever reason, I turned around and looked behind me. Due to an accident of unusual angles (hills, buildings, streets), suddenly I could see everything the building was hiding from me, including the Space Needle!
The beauty of turning around is that it changes your perspective. Sometimes it even shows you the forest for the trees—or in this case, the neighborhood for the buildings.
So how do you turn around, metaphorically speaking? Here are some straightforward and a couple less obvious methods:
- Try the other person’s perspective on for size. You may not end up agreeing with it, but you’ll understand it better, and this process frequently provides insight into design challenges. You UX people are used to this one.
- Are you looking from the outside in, or UI first? Try flipping it. Do the mental exercise of imagining your web application from the back end out – network to content buckets to databases to identifying the right content to surfacing, navigating, and consuming it. Getting a better understanding of the building blocks will let you do more with your Lego.
- Set yourself challenges that push you beyond your normal boundaries to see the point of view inside someone else’s. For example, find a song you like in all the music genres you can think of.
- Like sitting alone? Join a group. Like groups? Try taking some time away from them.
- Reverse the flow. (No, not that flow.) Does your taxonomy go from broad to specific? Why not try specific to broad? Or, put everything on the same level and make it flat. The meaningful concepts will float to the top.