When We Build

At Build 2011 something happened. Wilson Miner took to the stage and the audience made no noise apart from the occasional cough from the dry air running through the room. And then the room went completely quiet as hundreds of people listened to the man looking back at them.

I was on the back row of the hall and I was hanging on every word Wilson said, it’s rare to find such a profound talk at a web design conference and it’s something that can make a conference seem so special. This was something you would expect from the greatest TED talk.

This is ‘When We Build’ and you should watch it now.


Wilson Miner – When We Build from Build on Vimeo.

Understanding The Why

When we were learning as children, we always asked important questions. More often than not the main question was, Why? We as adults joke about children getting to that age and how they continue to ask why after the 2nd and 3rd time.

Each time a child asks why and receives an answer it generally asks it again and again and each time we have to get more specific with our answer or at least make it a little more descriptive to provide more context. Sometimes we run out of answers on the 9th time but we try our best.

Surely at such an early age, children cannot treat the first answer we give them as the only answer they’d receive. Do they think we’re joking with our first answer? Probably not. Once we start answering the same question a 2nd and 3rd time the child knows we can go as far as that. Each time we make our answers longer and eventually the child will get as much context and description as they’d ever get and understand ‘why’ better than they ever could.

I’ve never stopped asking why nor I ever will. This is both a good and bad thing. To a point it’s like a slight OCD, I have to understand the why. If I can’t fathom the why, I become easily frustrated or put up barriers to the information I’m hearing. If I don’t understand something, I’ll keep asking why until I do understand as each time I ask there will be more within an answer. Understanding the why is a little easier out of conversations than in them, I can research and read my way to an answer with more context. In discussion, the people I am talking to can unfortunately become frustrated with the amount of information I require without me explaining my questioning in the first place but I feel they still need to be asked.

The reasons why should ALWAYS be known.

I often bring this in to my work as I expect rather than assume that people other than myself would like to know the reason why they should either do something or use something before doing it. This information should be available to read or see at the lowest barrier of entry, it should be a gate that can be pushed open rather than the need for a key to unlock. By that I mean that a user should not have to think about the why and should move instantly to visualising themselves doing the action.

They and we should ‘Understand The Why’.