April 2013

Design Quotes I Live By

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”

– Charles Eames

“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.”

– Brian Reed

“There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence.”

– Massimo Vignelli

“People ignore design that ignores people.”

– Frank Chimero

“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.”

– Joe Sparano

“The most innovative designers consciously reject the standard option box and cultivate an appetite for thinking wrong.”

-Marty Neumeier

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SEO Professional Services How to Hire Right the First Time

Hiring and finding the best SEO professional services to plan and execute a Search Engine Optimization or website optimization campaign can be a difficult task yet vital to the growth of your business. With more integrity being placed in the methods of SEO developing companies, many businesses are springing up all over the Internet claiming to have the secret to getting your company those top rankings. But which do you choose and why is it important?

With Google (and other important search engines), social media and other online platforms driving the force on which your company’s traffic is dependent, the better the SEO professional services, the better chance you have of reaching those top spots. If your SEO expert is not right for the job, they could have detrimental effects on the rankings of your business in search engines, which in turn devalues your brand.

The benefits, however, of working with an expert that provides good SEO professional services can be outstanding and can push your business forward leaps and bounds.

Not only does it save you time personally as you have someone with a wealth of knowledge on the subject doing the job for you, it means that you can achieve your goals in a shorter timeframe with a more consistent and efficient approach. The benefit of this, is that your company will appear higher in the rankings on search engines, receive more website traffic, which will eventually lead to more sales and better brand recognition in the public forum.



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The Psychology of Creativity: How to Come Up With More Creative Ideas & Beat Creative Block


Have you ever wished you were more creative?


If you do creative work, have you ever suffered from a creative block and been stuck wondering what exactly is wrong, and how you can get yourself out of it?


Of course you have, I mean, who hasn’t!


Today, you’re in luck — you are about to read one of the most comprehensive posts on understanding creativity and spurring on creative thinking that’s ever been compiled.


With over two-dozen research studies and academic papers cited, you’ll finally get a clearer view on the creative process out of the muddy advice often found on un-scientific takes on the subject.


Let’s dig in!

How to Boost Your Creative Thinking (and Be More Creative)

When it comes to creativity, one of our biggest concerns is usually how we can be more creative, or come up with better ideas.
Be More Creative

Research in this area is all over the place, but I’ve gathered some of the most practical studies out there to help you utilize specific techniques that can boost your creativity.

All of these studies are useful for everyday creativity in daily life, so try a few out for yourself and see which ones work best for you.

1.) Restrict yourself

Later on I will show you how external restrictions can hurt creativity, but right now I’m talking about internal restrictions, which can actually be used to boost creativity!

The research shows that an insidious problem that many people have is that they will often take the path of “least mental resistance,” building on ideas they already have or trying to use every resource at hand.

The thing is, the research also suggests the placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity because it forces even creative people to work outside of their comfort zone (which they still have, even if they are a bit “weirder” than most).

One of the most famous examples is when Dr. Seuss produced Green Eggs & Ham after a betwhere he was challenged by his editor to produce an entire book in under 50 different words.

I’m no Dr. Seuss, but I’ve found (and I’m sure other writers can relate) that when I’m suddenly restricted to writing something in 500 words when I had planned to write it in 800 words, it can lead to some pretty creative workarounds.

Try limiting your work in some way and you may see the benefits of your brain coming up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve set.

2.) Re-conceptualize the problem

One thing that researchers have noticed with especially creative people is that they tend to re-conceptualize the problem more often than their less creative counterparts.

That means, instead of thinking of a cut-and-dry end goal to certain situations, they sit back and examine the problem in different ways before beginning to work.

Here’s a candid example — as a writer who handles content strategy for startups, my “cookie cutter” end goal is something like “write popular articles.” The problem is, if I approach an article with the mindset of, “What can I write that will get a lot of tweets?”, I won’t come up with something very good.

However, if I step back and examine the problem from another angle, such as: “What sort of articles really resonate with people and capture their interest?”, I’m focusing on a far better fundamental part of the problem, and I’ll achieve my other goals by coming up with something more original.

So, if you find yourself stagnating by focusing on generic problems (“What would be something cool to paint?”), try to re-conceptualize the problem by focusing on a more meaningful angle (“What sort of painting evokes the feeling of loneliness that we all encounter after a break-up?”).

3.) Create psychological distance

While it’s long been known that abstaining from a task (again, more on that later) is useful for breaking through a creative block, it also seems that creating “psychological” distance may also be useful.

Subjects in this study were able to solve twice as many insight problems when asked to think about the source of the task as distant, rather than it being close in proximity.

Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location. According to this research, this may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher level thinking.

4.) Daydream… and then get back to work!

Although study after study confirms that daydreaming and napping can help with the creative thought process, there is one piece of research that everybody seems to leave out…

One study in particular shows that the less work you’ve done on a problem, the less daydreaming will help you.

That is, daydreaming and incubation are most effective on a project you’ve already invested a lot of creative effort into.

So before you try to use naps and daydreams as an excuse for not working, be honest with yourself and don’t forget to hustle first!

5.) Embrace something absurd

While I’ll be covering the case for “weird” experiences in more detail later on, for now you need to know that the research suggests Absurdthat reading/experiencing something absurd or surreal can help boost pattern recognition and creative thinking.

(Subjects in the study read Franz Kafka, but even stories like Alice in Wonderland have been suggested by psychologists)

The conclusion was that the mind is always seeking to make sense of the things that it sees, and surreal/absurd art puts the mind in “overdrive” for a short period while it tries to work out just exactly what it is looking at or reading.

I like reading interesting short stories like The Last Question or browsing absurdist art at places like r/HeavyMind when I’m looking for some inspiration.

6.) Separate work from consumption

Also known as the “absorb state,” this technique has been shown to help with the incubation process (much more on that later) and is far more effective than trying to combine work with creative thinking.

It makes sense too — we are often in two very different states of mind when absorbing an activity and when we are trying to create something.

I’ve found that my writing breaks down when I try to handle research + writing at the same time, and I’m much better off when I just turn off my “work mode” and consume more inspiration in the form of reading, watching, and observing.


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The 5 Most Dangerous Creativity Killers

Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

When it comes to doing creative work, it’s important to not only look for ways to let our creativity thrive, but to also be mindful of insidious “creativity killers” that can sneak up and strangle our ability to come up with our best ideas. According to research from Harvard University, there are five main culprits that are responsible for killing our creativity.

It’s important to recognize these impediments to the creative thought process because many are insidious, and worse yet, most can be made on the managerial end, meaning we may be stifling our creative workers without even realizing it.


For those of us doing creative work, we must be mindful of these deterrents of the creative process so we can continue to put out our most novel ideas.


1. Role Mismatch


As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”


Placing people in roles that they are not fit for is a surefire way to kill creativity. Although this may seem like a managerial concern, there are personal consequences here as well. Additional research has shown that we are at our best when we are “busy” (and pushed to our limits), but not rushed. In the wrong role, we can struggle to keep up and live in a constant state of creativity-crushing panic.


2. External End-Goal Restriction


Although self-restriction can often boost creativity, the Harvard study shows thatexternal restrictions are almost always a bad thing for creative thinking. This includes subtle language use that deters creativity, such as bosses claiming “We do things by the book around here,” or group members implicitly communicating that new ideas are not welcome.


3. Strict Ration of Resources


While money and physical resources are important to creativity, the Harvard study revealed that mental resources were most important, including having enough time.


Creative people re-conceptualize problems more often than a non-creative. This means they look at a variety of solutions from a number of different angles, and this extensive observation of a project requires time. This is one of the many reasons you should do your best to avoid unnecessary near-deadline work that requires novel thinking. Also, when we are faced with too many external restrictions we spend more time acquiring more resources than actually, you know, creating.


4. Lack of Social Diversity


Homogeneous groups have shown to be better able to get along, but it comes at a cost: they are less creative. This even applies to the social groups you keep, so beware of being surrounded by people who are too similar all the time, you may end up in a creative echo-chamber.


5. Discouragement/No Positive Feedback


It’s tough to continue working on novel ideas when you haven’t received any positive feedback. This feeling is backed by psychological research that shows people who’ve started a new undertaking are most likely to give up the first time things come crashing down, also known at the “what the hell!” effect.


Creative people thrive on having others impacted by their ideas. Without feedback, their motivation begins to wither and die.

by Gregory Ciotti


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