Alternative blindness means that “it is very difficult to think about other options if you already have a solution in your mind”. We’ve talked a lot about ‘alternative facts’ this year, but not enough about alternative options. It comes naturally to us to think fast, but not to think differently.
I had a teacher in art school that challenged us to do strange things, like ‘studying a corridor in the classroom’. What can you do with a corridor? You can put your bag in there, or crouch in it when you’re lonely. But what can you do in a corridor when you’re happy? How do you talk to the wall? Can you use it as a musical instrument?
I couldn’t quite see what he was trying to teach us back then, but I do now. Since I became a cartoonist, I turn my worldview upside down on a daily basis. There’s no humor without surprise so I constantly have to look at at ordinary things in a new way.
Of course, UX is not about surprise. It is about meeting expectations with a little bit of delight. To meet those expectations, you have to explore possibilities and that means that you have to throw ideas away. A lot of people still think that this is a ‘waste’. It is not. The real waste is to put a lot of effort and money in an idea just because it was the first one that came to mind.