“Move Fast and Break Things” has been a mantra in the world of tech since Mark Zuckerberg declared it Facebook’s motto. While the mentality is, at its core, driven by passionate curiosity and relentless innovation, it has lead to some pretty serious consequences. You know, erosion of democracy and heightened polarization to name two.
In a world where technology can shape our worldview and dictate our mental and emotional health, how can mission-led brands and marketers withstand this? What can I do as a designer?
Here are a few approaches on how we, as creators, can move forward and make decisions that combat all the negative side effects that come with ever-expanding technology:
Gathering Diverse Perspectives
One time at a conference, I heard a speaker make a pretty clear analogy for why diversity is important: Gathering together folks who all think, look, and behave the same to create something new is a lot like inbreeding. It leads to illnesses, AKA some really insensitive marketing decisions. Ensure you have a team with diverse perspectives and have gathered input from a diverse audience. This helps you consider how the work you are putting out into the world affects those different from you.
If you’re like me, a white designer who works with mostly white folks, seek out perspectives from industry leaders with different backgrounds. This could simply mean following them on Twitter or reading their blog, or it could mean picking up a book that challenges your perspective.
Humility & Willingness to Check Your Bias
It’s the sad truth that every one of us carries implicit biases, and we probably won’t ever be able to fully rid ourselves of them. When creating imagery and messaging for marketing campaigns, it is important to bring awareness to the biases we carry so we don’t let them affect the work we put out into the world.
Humility is important in this process because we are prone to make mistakes, both big and small. If someone points out a way in which your biases got in the way of your work, accept and listen.
Approach projects with human-centered design thinking. This helps you consider how people will interact with your work, especially those with disabilities. As a person who is drawn to flashy visuals, it can be hard to resist creating a design that pushes limits. But flashy solutions are rarely practical for the audiences we are typically trying to reach. Slowing down and considering how the flow of content, use of color, etc. are going to affect your audience is key.
Creating a safe, trusting environment for your team leads to a more productive environment for when shit hits the fan. Rather than panic and blame when problems arise, creating an environment for your team that makes space for level-headedness leads to effective problem-solving. This helps us help others!
Identify counterproductive emotions. Being emotional isn’t always bad, but sometimes it can create friction or cloud our judgement. It’s ok to step back, take a walk, or take a nap.
Enthusiasm for New Ideas
A good attitude goes a long way. If we, as creators, are working in an energized environment, we are far more likely to create new and innovative ways to approach problems.
Poke around the happenings of your industry. What are other designers doing? How could you make it better? How could you make it smarter? Then do it.