Playtime is important
On the other hand, creating fun products as a side project is a great way to sharpen your skills. Because knowing you don’t have to come up with your best work ever provides room to learn and enjoy yourself. In this way, you will feel less stressed, be able to avoid procrastination, which is mainly a perfectionism-problem anyway. When you don’t have external, work-related pressure on which your salary depends, you will feel much more at ease when you create a visual or motion video that is not fantastic right away. Chances are high you won’t even be thinking about results yet because you’re having so much fun in the process! Also, once you’ve created something you are proud of, don’t forget to share your work. It is super easy to let yourself be seen online these days, so take advantage of that to get a little feedback.
“Often, of the coolest designs started out as passion projects. So play around and create what you like. Who knows, one day it might turn into a professional project.” - Pieter Decabooter
… and then you find or create the needle in the haystack
Product design is about developing the best out of many solutions. When you have tons of ideas and created a few prototypes, you can test them out and see what works best with different (groups of) users. Testing and then iterating over and over again will lead to a refined solution and help you cancel out what doesn’t work. Needless to say, this is the phase in which the user takes the spotlight, his or her problem is our problem. This is also the moment where being a generalist-designer will serve you. I found that looking at the process from different angles, in idea generation as well as testing and prototyping, prevents you from tunnel vision and gives you more perspective.