Great design makes interfaces seem effortless and invisible. Everything just seems to flow intuitively. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that great designers are like the experience of the design itself, magic. Amazing designs just seem to naturally spring from them.
Great designers are not born with magical design abilities Just as it takes years of practice to become accomplished with a light saber and become a Jedi, it takes years to understand the elements of design and know how and when to use them effectively. Amazing designs require a solid foundation.
Only by being steeped in the needs and mindset of the customer can the designer know how to properly apply those years of training. Customer interviews, contextual inquiry, user testing, diary studies, and surveys can all help bring the full scope of the problem into proper focus. You must study your customers as a Jedi studies a worthy opponent.
Once you understand the problem, you can begin to brainstorm and get creative. In a light saber duel you must try many things to figure out what works. You test different tactics to see what is effective. You build on those advantages to give yourself an edge. In the same vein, you must test your ideas to see how your customers will respond. You must find out what works and abandon tactics that fail. Study your customers perceptions to see what they see and hear what they hear. Then you must grasp how they interpret those perceptions and fit it into their own mental models of the world.
Magic only seems like magic because you don’t see all of the training and preparation that goes into the feat. Remember, Padawan, your idea is only as good as your execution: years of study and maintenance of skills are required. The very best designs work because they represent the finely honed execution of an idea, in complete alignment with the customers needs and the force.
May the force be with you,