Momentum by Mark Jenkins

Inspired by an article I read on Brain Pickings today, here are some thoughts on momentum; in life and as a designer.

Upon accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, Heaney, whilst delivering poetry, spoke the words below:

Getting started, keeping going, getting started again — in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm not only of achievement but of survival, the ground of convinced action, the basis of self-esteem and the guarantee of credibility in your lives, credibility to yourselves as well as to others.

I seem to be getting inspired by all of the things around me at the moment, especially in the least expected places. I read the quote over a few times and I can safely say I can sum the same thing up in a single word…


Life throws many things at us. Life is both incredibly simple and incredibly complex at the very same time.

Things can slow us down.

Things can speed us up.

Awareness of when those things might come at us is a difficult thing to know and realise and recently I’ve been finding myself increasingly more aware of the things around, my surroundings and the many things that drive me forwards.

For me, momentum means one thing, which I aim for – going forwards. Actually, moving forwards.

As a designer it’s increasingly easy to make something complex. It’s increasingly easy to add things to ‘pep’ up a design, only to then remove it when realising that it was pointless in the first place.

Momentum can be thought of in many ways when it comes to the work I do. I love to work with teams who are on the same page. Transparency can drive momentum, honesty can also do the very same thing.

Transparent and honest design can drive momentum.

I love working with teams to humanise digital products; observing behaviours, designing for both the new and the familiar.

There’s a lot be said for design that ignores people. People ignore it. People ignore things that ignore them and so momentum can be halted–just like that.

To keep delivering work at a level that I am happy with and to the stakeholders who work with me on projects, I focus on the task at hand. This is not a blinkered way of thinking for me, or designing for that matter, but one which means my ‘to-do’ list is never bigger than the right thing, at the right time.

Dissecting a digital product and getting to the nuts of what the problem you are solving is a difficult task. It’s easy for me to suddenly feel like I have no idea what is going on. When that happens I stop and pause.

Sit back and think about the task at hand and put all of the pieces together. Time spent up front to understand and communicate ideas clearly and quickly is of massive importance.

Presenting work is then easy. If you know what you’re designing, what you’re building and what your WHY is, the rest will follow.

I’ve written about contribution before and knowing your own contribution, knowing everyone in the team’s contribution keeps things on a steady path–one that goes forwards, perhaps not fast all the time, but it’s moving forwards that’s important. Right?

Complexity can derive from contribution, especially if you don’t know what your contribution is and where it’s going. Complexity can result in momentum slowing down.

Move everything out of the way. Focus on the task at hand. Keep things simple. Keep things human. Gain momentum.


I’m a UX Consultant in London – get in touch about your next big idea.