I met with the recruiters at Paragon to train them on the backend of the system I've developed, and found that they work and think a little differently than the system presents itself to the end-user. End-users aren't always good at telling developers specifically what will work for them. It's kind of an intuition on the part of the designer.
Luckily for me, I took Tamara with me to sit in on the meeting. She's an implementation specialist, and has a strong compass to know what's going to work and what won't. So this weekend, I'm going through the backend of the web site to conform it more closely with how I understand the recruiters view their work. It means rewriting quite a bit. But if it means more enthusiasm for the product, it's worth it.
As I go through the rewrite of the menu, I ask myself constantly: how will they view this? Does this make sense? Is this clear? Is it complete and robust? That's a lot of mental gymnastics.
There's a depth of thinking that goes on while doing this that requires paying no real attention to anything.
Sometimes, my work is best done while walking the neighborhood because there is thinking involved, and sometimes, I get a lot accomplished in the shower, and sometimes, just browsing web sites absent-mindedly helps.
Does that look like work? No.
Is it work? Absolutely.
Once the design is right, everything becomes obvious and easy.
I think this is true for a lot of people, but most work environments / cultures don't allow for that kind of free-activity conceptualization. If they don't see something that looks like work (typing! typing!) then you're slacking.
But how do you think things through and arrive at the right answers to problems when you're expected to be typing! typing! meeting! meeting! talking! talking! all the time. Perhaps because there is that work! work! expectation in most companies, big projects struggle to finish correctly and thus makes no sense to the end-user. The clear thinking and mental prototyping required for clean design is not visible to the observer, and in some companies, simply not allowed - which will leave a lot of unanswered questions at the end of some projects, because no one thought them through.
Is that success? Just meeting a deadline and looking like you're working! working! is no success at all if the end result doesn't amplify the productivity of the end-user. It's amazing to me how often this obvious requirement for every project gets lost in the path to production! production!