Carl Barenbrug

Product design, creative direction

Trusting Your Intuition

In the world of digital product design, trusting your gut might not be considered the most responsible thing to do, particularly given that we have access to a ridiculous amount of analytical data to support 99% of the decisions we make. Now, I’m not against data-driven decisions—far from it. They are fundamental to measuring behaviour and discovering what works well and what doesn’t. It also provides an indisputable argument against those with unsubstantiated suggestions on what they would consider a better approach.

That said, if we base all our decisions on data, we lose our sense of creativity and innovation. We take fewer risks. We care more about numbers than we do about the things we make. We live to serve optimisation, performance, accessibility, conversion, and SEO reports. Of course, we need these tools to measure how suitable our products are for the general populace, but I still believe in trusting my intuition for certain things. However, we can only find this trust through experience. Through failures and through successes.

Intuition is not knowledge. It is a feeling. And it’s not always right, but it’s an emotion that adjusts and evolves over time. Sometimes it comes down to confidence in yourself whether or not to run with your gut, sometimes it comes down to the confidence of others, and the rest of the time it comes down to the accuracy of reporting tools. I believe intuition has a place in our decision making process, the same way collecting data has, but what I think is more important is having the conviction to choose one way or the other.

I’m currently facing a tough balance of analytics and creative direction as I undertake a massive overhaul of Minimalissimo. Many of the decisions are based on data, but other aspects, particularly from a design perspective, are based on personal preference and intuition. I guess every decision made is a risk to a certain extent, supported or otherwise. Time (and analytics) will tell if it all goes to shit, or whether things have changed for the better.

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