I said it. It’s inevitable: you will get ‘stuck’ when you design. Sometimes at the beginning of a project, sometimes right in the middle. With the ‘stuck’ feeling comes a sense of overwhelm, panic, and sometimes tears.
During these dark periods of blankness in my mind, I’ve many times questioned why I am a designer in the first place (hello, Imposter Syndrome). I’m here to tell you: THERE IS HOPE. I’ve gotten through it every time and so will you. Here is a list of tips that really helped me:
Take a break
Research shows that your brain will stop registering certain sounds, sights, and feelings if that stimulus remains over time. Get outside. Take a walk. BREATHE, for goodness sake! Many creatives say that when you’re under pressure (self-induced or external) you cannot create art, and I tend to agree. Most times I’ve had to walk away, do something completely different and come back with fresh eyes. So many times I’ve realised that I am over-complicating the problem in my head and the solution is quite simple. When you get outside or at least away from the problem, you can give yourself a cognitive break and allow the ideas to start flowing again.
Look at old designs
Sometimes you can feel so lost that you don’t know where to turn to next. A good place to start is your old designs. There might just be something in there that sparks a new idea or gets you thinking about an even better solution. Other times it can show you that you are capable and you’ve got this design thing. You’ll either be shocked at or proud of your old designs, but I can guarantee you it’ll get you thinking.
There’s been much debate on the helpfulness of Dribbble and Behance for creative inspiration. I’m on the side that says: be inspired, but keep your user at the forefront of your designs. Apart from online platforms for design inspiration, I’ve found also looking around me at how things work in real life can often spark an “aha” moment. There are so many online resources for inspiration as well and I’m sure you will find somewhere that’ll get those creative juices flowing.
Ask for help
If you’re part of a design team, your colleagues can be your greatest asset. They’ve encountered similar problems and can help you out. I’ve sat on countless Team’s calls with colleagues to get me out of the rut. Sometimes all it takes is hearing how someone else processes the problem at hand and seeing how they think. Other times, I vent and get all my frustrations off my chest. Most of the time you’re just too close to the problem to see the answer.
And finally – Break it down
No, I don’t mean showing off your best dance moves (although that might help too). Take time to look at the problem again, break it into its most simple form and approach it from there. If you’re looking at designing an entire screen, for example, you can feel like you don’t know where to start. Take it piece by piece and start from there. Once you get the first few parts together, the rest will usually fall into place.
You shouldn’t get caught up in the feeling of being ‘stuck’. It will come; it will go. Never allow designer’s block to make you feel incompetent or less-than. Each time, see it as an opportunity to grow into a better designer and person overall. YOU’VE. GOT. THIS. 👏
About the author.
Danielle is a UX Designer who joined the JustSolve team in 2018. After completing her BIS Multimedia degree at Tuks she came on board as an intern and has since become a full-time UX Designer. She enjoys being part of many aspects of the development, design and business processes. She loves her dog Nala, fitness and building puzzles.