Mira Kirvesmaki

Design with heart

The learning curve

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As the year is coming to an end I felt like reflecting a bit on what I’ve learned over the past nine months.

I think my biggest take away from this year was being able to plan and execute a full design process over a longer time period. As I’ve only been involved in one semester projects before that have had a tight time constraint as well as several team members to negotiate with I don’t feel that this is something that I’ve had the chance to do before. Drawing from a pool of design methods that I’ve used before as well as ones that I wanted to test, I moved through the stages of design. With the brief being open I really found myself struggling with trying to narrow it down, the limitless possibilities and the responsibility lying solely on my shoulders really weighed me down. I learned that constraints are really one of the key aspects in any design project. And that the more constraint a brief is the more I actually enjoy it, I love the dance around them.

I also learned that I utterly love the initial stages of the design process, the part where I can interact with people. I have to say that I get most inspired by others and working on my own, which was something I was kind of looking forward to experiencing, proved to be quite the challenge. Luckily, being a people centered project, I had several extremely useful interactions while conducting interviews, observations and the experience prototype. It was the insights that I gathered through these interactions that really made my project.

I also feel that my visual design skills have improved since last year. I identified this as a particular weakness of mine during last summer and since then have actively used any possibility I’ve had to improve my skills. This included things like doing weekly mood boards at the start of the project and designing few motivational posters for my own use. It is still not one of my strongest suits but I am quite pleased to see that there has been great improvement which I hope will continue.

There are countless small technical aspects and mishaps that I’ve also learned from. I have not undertaken this large a project using HTML, CSS and JavaScript before and obviously learned a great deal in that arena. I learned that blogging/recording my process is a great way for me to keep my head straight with a project and that putting too much pressure on myself will only lead to paralysis in the end. I learned that it is important to have fun and love what you are doing if wanting to achieve something great and that this comes from being relaxed and openminded. Especially for learnings sake feeling safe in making mistakes is paramount.

I feel like I’ve been able to grow as a designer over the past year, having had several opportunities to challenge myself. This growth is obviously inevitable as well at this early stage in my development when each project completed counts. Even though I am not satisfied with my project (is there such a thing?) I think it is this discontentment that is really pushing me to better myself and to challenge myself. All in all it has been a great ride.

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