Daily Design Challenge: Who’s In?

Hi there! My name is Jen Rizzo, and I’m hoping I get to meet a lot of new faces today. I’m a freelance designer in San Francisco. You’d probably call me a motion graphics designer, but I’ve spent a few years working in architecture, my formal education is mostly based in UX/UI design, and I’ve had the pleasure to work as a visual designer on everything from logo design to mobile layouts. I’m sort of a jack-of-all-trades design nerd.

As a freelancer, though, I don’t always get a ton of chances to do high-level creative work. Motion Graphics freelancers, at least in San Francisco and at my experience level, tend to be very involved production artists. I don’t get in on a lot of storyboarding; being called in at the last minute to churn out some late nights is really my forte. I miss all the thinking, all the concepting. I miss that super beginner stage where you get to look at the entire idea of something and come up with how to make it better – different from “how do we execute the ideas in this set of storyboards”.

I searched around and eventually turned to Twitter a few weeks back, asking the question “Does anything exist that’s like a daily design challenge?” A website, blog, what-have-you, that posts a new idea every morning and asks people to think about it for ten minutes. Something creative, a question that gets your ideas flowing. Ten minutes. My work day doesn’t kick off until entirely too late, most days, because I just can’t force myself into work mode. If someone asked me a really fun question every morning at 9 a.m., I can almost promise that after ten minutes of figuring out how to answer it, I’d be ready to start my day.

Here’s where I really need the internet to come in. I’m not a well-known designer; I’m a just-made-it-to-senior-level freelancer in San Francisco who doesn’t have a popular design-based Twitter account or a blog or a portfolio that’s getting three thousand hits per day. And I don’t really KNOW any of those people, either. As a result, I’m going to need you to spread the word. Because I’d love to get this concept off the ground, and I’ve got the time to do it, and I’m happy to host the website – but if I was the type of person who could come up with a great idea off the top of my head every single day and inspire the world with it, I promise you, I’d be in a very different place. I need your help.

You can leave a comment here, or you can email me at my personal email address. If this concept actually takes off, I’m sure I’ll set up something better than just my personal email, but for the time being I’d love to have my inbox flooded with your ideas.

I realize the concept of giving away free ideas is scary, but how much better would the world be if we did? I’m not asking you to give me fully-actualized thoughts, more like social questions and very, very general things to think about. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Many major cities in the world either employ or are considering congestion pricing in response to the number of automobiles that crowd city streets that were never designed to be so heavily trafficked. Is there a better way to balance out transportation and incentivize commuters to re-evaluate their transportation?
  • A majority of Americans now use smartphones to be able to communicate in multiple ways (voice, text, data services) from their pocket. Much of the world still relies on much simpler devices. What are the key features you use on your phone that could be accomplished on a “dumbphone”, and how can we give access to those services to a simpler device?

Ideas could be as simple as linking to an article that someone’s written and asking a question about them, or inviting everyone to play¬†cheeseorfont, or pointing out a very specific UI problem that could be thought through in a different way (but let’s try to avoid insulting the hard-working designers that made those decisions in the first place)¬†– anything that might get brains rolling, I’m all ears.

But I also want to discuss what YOU might find inspirational. I also don’t want this to only apply to designers, because there are hundreds of careers out there where people need to be creative and think on their feet, and I don’t want to eliminate programmers, writers, chefs or anyone else. We could all use a little inspiration and thinking and it would be my honor to facilitate such things.

So, let’s see what we can come up with. Please spread the word! I’ll be keeping a list of everyone’s ideas and will launch the official collection shortly. I’d like to make sure I’ve at least got a backlog of a couple of weeks of content before I throw this thing out there. You can email me, comment to this post, contact me @jrizzo on Twitter, or whatever else suits your fancy. I am so, so excited to hear all your questions.

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