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6 Ways to Inspire Your Design Team


Experience designers are tasked with designing products, processes, services and environments with a focus on the quality of the user experience (UX). Typical of most mainstream designers, we’re creative-types who thrive when working on our own time and at the mercy of our “creative flow” and inspiration. The challenge we face, as most UX designers will assert, is the pressure to deliver solutions to keep pace with the next wave of what technology will allow. At Ness, we work hard to feed our developers with the designs they need while also adhering to the creativity high-standards we have set for ourselves.

What can often be the case, though, is the notorious absence of inspiration just when it’s needed. So how do you not only get your own creative juices flowing but also inspire your design team? Here are six suggestions:

  1. Start the morning off right

Check in with your team each morning to start the day together. Share stories from the previous evening, plans for the upcoming weekend, or just have coffee together and complain about the weather. It helps build a relationship beyond work and sets the tone for collaboration and open communication. This helps to eliminate the barriers that sometimes exist between colleagues in the work environment. A design team that feels uninhibited will produce more ideas.

  1. Turn the walls into your canvas

Dedicate a wall in your office for your team to keep adding visuals that can serve not just as general inspiration, but also as a jumping off point when they’re looking for future ideas. Satisfyingly symmetric patterns, breathtaking photography, a well-curated color palette – anything goes. For specific projects, work with your team to set up a mood board that reflects the desired theme and direction and let it help guide the team’s thinking.

  1. Find inspiration, share inspiration
    A key to design, like most professions, is to keep learning. Whether it’s a video with an interesting point of view, a motivating TED talk, or an app with a great interface, if you find something that makes you look at design differently, chances are it’ll do the same for your team. Share what you find, encourage your team to do the same and take the time to discuss, debate and learn from each other.
  1. Take a step back

Give your team direction, but don’t micromanage. A study by PayScale revealed that 72 percent of workers who feel empowered to make decisions on their own said they are satisfied in their jobs. This satisfaction, in turn, can lead to a stronger sense of responsibility and better performance. Show your team members that you trust them to do good work, and they won’t disappoint you.

  1. Err and let err

Celebrate your team for their wins, and also encourage productive conversations about learning from mistakes. Make sure your feedback is constructive and encouraging; if they’re scared to fail, they’ll be scared to experiment. Here’s an added bonus: history has ample examples of great ideas being born out of errors such as the slinky, penicillin and chocolate chip cookies.

  1. Take a break

Working on the same project for a prolonged period can cause fatigue and hamper the ability to churn out new ideas. Encourage your team to do something different, alone or with colleagues – whether it’s cocktails after work, a trip to a local museum or maybe just a walk around the city or office park – make sure you encourage enriching experiences even in the middle of big projects. This will pay off in the long term by helping your team gain inspiration and a fresh perspective before coming back to the task at hand.

Maneuvering through a field like UX design can be tricky, but these simple tips can help you maximize your team’s performance and experience while also minimizing “creative fatigue” and burnout to help achieve better overall results.