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Improve your taste

Improve your taste


A while ago, I ran a workshop with my team. It was called Taste. I started the workshop by asking the team a few simple questions.

If they were spotted in public with their spouse, which pair would they rather be dressed like: the ones on the left or the right?

If someone's headphones were suddenly unplugged and their music began playing at full volume, what would they rather be listening to?

If they were given a blank cheque to buy a car, which one would they pick?

If they were to be known for designing a set of screens, which one would they rather have as their work?

It's usually fine whatever your individual taste is — in music, in furniture, in designing interfaces, in your wardrobe but when you're working in a team and especially when you're part of a team that's growing, it's important that there's a commonly established sense of taste that all of us build towards. It also becomes the job of a leader to establish the objective definition of taste. The objective definition can then finally be established in the form of a design system, let's say.

This workshop or exercise was for the team to be first aware of what their individual tastes were and how much off or in alignment was it from where the team's collective taste needed to be. Here's a video that I feel demonstrates that well. Ignore the psychotic behaviour of the abusive instructor played by Simmons.

The first exercise of this workshop (10 mins):

I'm a big fan of good music, like the rest of the population on planet Earth. My taste in music kept improving (and still does) by constantly getting exposed to good music from recommendations, playing them in my head or on drums. And while doing so, I keep removing the ones I no longer enjoy. So, the first exercise was for the individuals in the team was to create their design inspiration boards (or playlists).

  1. Create a new board on Pinterest

  2. Give a topic of your choice (Editorial design, magazine covers, game packaging design, whatever)

  3. Save (pin) 20 ideas in that board

The second exercise (10 mins):

  1. Delete 15 ideas from the board created; keep top 5

  2. Showcase the final board (2 mins each)

This was the hardest step for them to do. It was the hardest for them to part ways with what they thought were their already shortlisted good ideas. Finally, they were left with the top 5. I gave all of them a soft assignment for life (as a designer):

  • Save ~20 inspirations per day

  • The next day, remove 50% of the inspirations saved from the previous day

  • After 5 days, share the remaining inspirations with the team.

  • From the collective inspirations, remove 50%

  • Practice 2-3 ideas every week by designing, writing, creating so you build the muscle memory

Some tips to increase your surface area for inspirations, ideas:

  • Use 2-3 new products/ apps every day (Product Hunt, App Store, Play Store)

  • Watch good documentaries and movies (The great hack, Jiro dreams of sushi, Objectified)

  • ABC: Always be capturing. Take photos, screenshots, write, IG, Pinterest, Dribbble, etc.

  • Increase your Dribbble/ Behance/FWA/ Pinterest time by 100%

  • Play games (Monument Valley, FPS)

  • Read local newspaper for fun! (dainik jagaran)

  • Watch TED talks

  • Watch speeches and standup comedy

  • Use Twitter to test your copywriting skills

  • Use IG to test your VD/ GD skills

And most importantly, your current taste should be 50% ahead of your current ability.

© Copyright 2023, I guess.

© Copyright 2023, I guess.