Can Tools Inspire Us?

Typically inspiration is sparked before a tool is ever used, and most experts tell you that is the right way to maintain proper focus for a project with a measurable goal. Don't rely on your tools to create anything of great impact. While I agree with this approach - concepts must be strong and proper tools used to deliver, of course all tools are still just just that, tools do get the job done.

But can your tools inspire you?

I worked briefly in a (UX) consulting position where I was issued a dell laptop for my work. I had Axure, some Adobe products and Outlook. The machine itself was slow, small (everyone in the enormous company got the exact same model from engineers to designers to marketers to VPs and interns). The company had the means to provide most of what we asked for otherwise but IT had their way to do things that was hopelessly challenged by some creatives when it came to one of the main tools I needed to perform deliverables for my role. I had a second monitor which definitely helped with the small screen, but I still lacked so many tools that I had not only gotten used to but that had been part of many workflows in my design process.

I tried using all of the collaborative features I could - especially in Axure - for feedback that might try to keep my PC “transparent” to me. After all - I told myself - Axure was practically the same product on Mac anyway... I was thankful we were using a modern wireframing tool as well.

Using corporate fonts made font management pretty easy since I only had to install a few and wireframe for the rest of my role. I was happy wireframing, but when it came to using any modern tools for collaboration, we didn’t seem to have time or care to try something better. Feedback came from multiple sources in multiple formats without seeing other feedback, and projects took a while to move.

Development was short of a nightmare, but thankfully I can code bare bones (though troubleshooting and maintenance took way longer than it needed to). I’m not saying that tools don’t exist for both platforms, but I wasn’t able to install anything. I just never felt like I was a part of my tools.

Today I am settled into my destined role at Schoolwires, and we all use MacBook Pros. I was brought into a team who constantly tries out new products, hardware and does not hesitate to be agile with our methods and workflows. This environment inspires me to refresh my work, tools and workflow myself and I feel myself not only wanting to innovate and create more, but I am also  growing. We all feel that using and trying out technologies is one of the best ways to know what's going on in the space, and we all get giddy at the sight and feel of a slick interface. In fact I’ve been so inspired creatively this past year that I have started to do more creative work at home than ever, and am loving my job more than any other.

As I wait excited for a simple pack of Micron Pens for my Hand Lettering Skillshare Class, and my Gold iPhone 5S, I can’t help but wonder if our tools can inspire us, even though our ideas may many times come from other sources. For me, it’s definitely true.