I have been reading Todd Henry’s book “Herding Tigers” recently and read about the three types of drivers for designers and creative people. Sure we’ve head about the different types of personality tests people can take to help them understand their strength and expressiveness. But I found this simple concept to be very helpful for me to understand the type of creative work I want to do.
There are three types of motivations that keep designers happy, driven and flat out inspired to carry on. Not all designers like to work on the same types of projects. I am going to discuss the three types of motivations for create people.
- Live for the process of creating something new
- Want a clean slate, a difficult problem to solve and no instruction manual
- Not satisfied with tweaking something
In other words, Builders are your “big sky” type of designer who can be very creative comping up with an idea from scratch. He/she doesn’t want you to prescribe a solution. They want to come up with one themselves. So for the Builder, give them complete freedom to go hog wild and build or create the brand new design from the ground up.
- Love analysis and diagnosis
- Can quickly scan a situation, identify what is broken and find a solution
- Can be paralyzed with a new project. The prefer some parameters
I think that Fixers love User Research and validation. Fixers can look at a website or app that already exists and can see the problems that are there and want to jump right in to correct the problems right away. Unlike the Builder, they may not feel like they can get started on a complete blank canvas. The Fixer prefers a foundation to get started with.
- Love to take something good and make it great
- Look for efficiencies and hate waste
- Work best with defined objectives and ways to quantify performance
Finally, Optimizers are quite similar to Fixers. A blank canvas is not their forte. They prefer to work in an organized world with some boundaries already set. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is why design systems and style guides exist. Some might even say that Optimizers are machine-like and want to “trim the fat” to make the most efficient user flow and task completion possible.
So what am I? A Builder, Fixer or Optimizer?
I think I am a cross between a Fixer and an Optimizer. I really do enjoy the “fixing up” and tinkering to make a system or interface better, more efficient and more streamlined. I don’t think this is as simple as just “making it look pretty.” Nope. In fact I really do not like that concept at all.
I am the type of person who like to take an older system and improve the process. I like to remove extra steps and bloat. I think the Optimizer also relates to the
- “make sure you are on time,”
- “there needs to be some organization and a bit of a plan going in to this” and
- “don’t miss deadlines”
aspects of my personality. What can I say? I am organized and like an orderly world around me when I can get it. That does not mean I cannot go with the flow. Oh, I would not be able to be a UX designer if I could not adjust on the fly. It just means that I do prefer to have a bit of cleanliness in the chaos when possible.
Finally the researcher side of me also wants data and validation to support my design concepts and theories. I am not that crazy egomaniac that falls in love with my designs. I want to know that I am building the right thing, not just the thing right. I want to test my designs to make sure it is in the right track.
Which approach to you fall under when it comes to a project?