Design Disruptors

When I receive an email in my inbox from the famous “Clark from Invision” I generally have a quick scan, as most blog posts on Invision catch my attention and are often useful to read (especially for those in the creative industry). This email caught my attention sharpish. It was promoting Invision’s first documentary called Design Disruptors which provides an incite into how some of the world’s leading technology companies have changed the game for product design and user experience (UX). I eagerly clicked on the link and watched the trailer. After watching the trailer my fellow design colleagues and I were keen to check out what the hype was all about.

I had been keeping an eager eye out for any follow up for the release date of the premiere. And once Clark had updated everyone with set dates (good old Clark) we were first to sign up and secure our place for a ticket. The build up and sporadical emails about Design Disruptors had got me pretty excited as I expect great things from Invision!

On the 7th July at 5:30pm at The London Palladium, we headed into the venue. We were pleasantly greeted by friendly staff and given some vinyl stickers and an awesome ticket that was printed onto metal! To top it off, when we were directed to our seats and we were given free sweets and popcorn! Who doesn’t love free sweets and popcorn?! Looking around it was refreshing to see a sea of creative enthusiasts and see the all the seats filled in the theatre.

Invision had interviewed over 90 leading technology companies who were focused on changing their design approach to benefit and upend their product and business. The documentary highlighted some very interesting things about how every company will take a different approach and spin on how they tackle and solve problems. Throughout the whole film the word ‘disruption’ is used to describe how these companies are making radical and effective changes that are making a significant difference in the world of technology today.

So what is meant by disruption? Jason Mayden a designer at Accel Partners states, ”Disruption for me is confidence in action. When you see true disruptors they are fearless. They are not afraid to walk out in front of an audience who are not afraid and say I do not have the answer but I am not going to quit until I find it. Disruption is what I would say is the by product of improvisation, when you do something different, when you follow your gut, when everyone else zigs you zag!”. He also speaks about how moving in another direction where people aren’t looking creates a wave which creates an impact. I think for technology companies, we strive to search and look for better or the best solution that can make us stand out from the rest but Jason highlights a good point that in order to do that we need to be looking and moving in another direction to be able to discover this.

Julie Zhuo a director at Facebook is captured talking about how, “when any company gets complacent this is a recipe for failure, technology is advancing so quickly and we are all using mobile devices now, three years ago a lot of people were predicting that that wasn’t going to be the case. So I think that any company that doesn’t have an eye towards the future, who isn’t like we need to keep looking ahead and need to nod. We need not to assume how things are today is how they are going to be in the future. That’s how you have to live to stay at the top and be innovative”. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace which is changing our approach to design and how we execute and implement things. Julie shows how her view on disruption is about forward thinking and not becoming complacent, that in order to stay at the top you need to keep your eye on how the world around us is changing and adapt to that.

Throughout the whole film, there were a lot of inspiring and insightful parts, some relevant and some not so relevant. It was interesting to see and get an insight into how some of the biggest brands in the world start their process just like any of us. At the drawing board. Seeing how they expand and progress ideas is valuable as I think that is where so many of us fall short. They speak about the process of eliminating some ideas that on paper are great but in reality would never work. One company was shown having the whole team individually come up with 3 ideas, where they pin them to a wall and have everyone critique. At the end of the crit they pick the best idea out of the 3 and narrow it down to only a few to work with. I know all too well how unnerving group crit’s can be, at university you are thrown into a group of people you may not necessarily know or have the same perspective as but I think critiques help you to see how your idea is viewed by others. This is valuable as what you may have considered as a good idea may have flaws you might not have noticed if someone hadn’t pointed them out. I think as designers we are all precious about our creations and sometimes can take constructive criticism quite personally. But you have to consider things from all angles and if someone can shed some light and help grow your idea I think that is something wonderful. I mean even now for example, I can sit and go over an idea or project and think I’m happy with it and then I ask for another opinion and they see something or suggest I change something which can make it a whole ton better! Sometimes all that is needed is fresh eyes!

At the end of the film, Invision’s Claire Byrd and Spotify’s Tobias van Schneider gave some of their time to do a Q&A. (Even Clark got a cheeky shout out!)

Claire asks Tobias what has been most challenging thing in your career or something that was really informative about your experience that you may want to share with everyone. Tobias answers, “Art lessons. I mean, I would say one of the things that I learnt working in product design is related to a book that I’m reading right now which is published by Ryan Holiday called ego is the enemy, it is very fitting for product design. I mean when you start off in graphic design you learn all these rules right? You learn the guides, print, the production process and all of these things and you are kind of a specialist and you kind of know you are doing things the right way and you can tell other people that this is how you should do it. When it comes to product design and everything we saw today, I mean in reality because the industry is so young we don’t really know what we’re doing just yet, you know we can pretend but we don’t know for sure. When working on a product or a digital product specifically you have to remove the ego completely because when you are working with other people in the room there is no-one who is right. No-one really knows for sure and that is certainly something I learnt myself”. This shows that even the best of us still have room for error and to learn. As the world of technology continues to evolve, we continue to constantly adapt, trial new things and learn new processes.

Overall I enjoyed the premiere of Design Disruptors and have taken away some valuable information. Although a lot of the film focused on product design and user experience, it was beneficial to know how that part of the process is solved. Watching it showed me that we generally have the same principles when it comes to communicating and solving a problem. Although it wasn’t initially what I was expecting, I still found it useful and inspiring. This just shows how powerful design is when you get it right. Having an insight into how major companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Mailchimp etc solve issues and look for a gap in the market to not only improve user experience but effectively boost their business is pretty incredible. Perhaps we all need to bring out the “design disruptor” in ourselves.

For more information or to check out the Design Disruptors click here.