Don’t Forget About Design

Is this aligning correctly to the grid? Is this the right screen font? Would the user click here? Am I staying with the client’s brand here? Will this site work in the mobile browser?

Yes Internet, I know, I know, I know.

Sometimes I get so caught up in doing every little thing right, I forget to actually enjoy what I am doing. So many things are running through my mind as I design that I forget about Design (with a big “D”). The thousands of details can override the bigger vision of my design. Design certainly is important down to the pixel. It’s what we are paid to do. That is a given though. I feel that there is so much pressure on that part, that it becomes a constraint to young designers everywhere.

I love the amount of information out there. It’s a luxury that we take for granted. We can find anything at our fingertips, 24-hours a day. Sure, it is cliché to say it, but if your connection is turned off, you realize how much we really have here.

I’ve always had a connection, but not to the level there is today. The design blogs and galleries were barely alive at that time. For me that lack of content and (it kills me to say this) no Twitter, was a good thing. In fact, it was a great thing for my designs. I didn’t always know what the hell I was doing. I figured it out though. There wasn’t a quick and easy answer for me. I fought for every pixel. I couldn’t just pull up a site and become an “instant expert.”

The designs I did were not just for the clients, but also for me in a sense. I wanted them to be great, not because I was worried what other designers might think, or if they would become part of a showcase. I explored new things and found my own way to achieve the vision in my head. I wasn’t afraid of something turning out wrong, I just kept going. I was fearless.

The “Why” Matters More

The push for these smaller details and the things that matter sometimes make me rethink how I present myself. There was a recent post and discussion on Drawar about the goal of a designer’s site. The most important part of that being the portfolio page/section. I agree with most of the article, however I don’t agree with that part. The most important part of your site is the about page. If you want to make money, then make Websites or “solutions.” If you want to design great things and work on great projects then you have to sell what you believe in.

When someone buys an Apple product they are not just buying a phone or computer. They are buying into the personality of Apple and what they believe. They are buying into the “Why” Apple does what they do. There are other companies that create quality phones and computers. They are just selling their catalog though, not why they do what they do.1

I try to make my entire site an about page. On every page you hopefully get a glimpse of who I am and why I do what I do. One of the examples in the Drawar article was Dave Werner’s portfolio site and how he was successful in getting a job because of it. The success he found was because the site was not about his work, it was about him. The company hired Dave, and every quirk in his personality, not some impersonal robot designer.

I am not selling a catalog of design work. I am showing people who I am and what I believe in. I look for that in the designers I admire. If the things they believe resonate with me, I listen to them.

Design Fearlessly

“Vision, courage, and determination will bring you where you want to go” -– Massimo Vignelli

When a designer like Massimo Vignelli speaks, you listen. Watching a recent interview with him I realized that I was missing that part of design that made me love it when I started. I didn’t know everything I was supposed too. I was almost designing blindly and going with some vision stuck in my head. I was guided by my gut, and no matter what, I would create the best work possible at that time. I wasn’t afraid to misstep, it just showed me what wasn’t the right answer for that project.

Designing without fear is something I miss. I want to read about other designers like Massimo that live and breathe design. There weren’t many books and information when he started design. He paved his own way. When Massimo talks about design, he talks about Design. It’s not about what his favorite blogs are, or who he follows on Twitter. It’s about why he designs and how he thinks.

I look for that in other designers today. If I see a designer that says he/she has the best advice in the universe to create a beautiful Website header, I ignore it. I am tired of talking about the million things I need to keep in mind to create the best design possible.

I don’t want all the answers. I want to fail. I want to learn from that. I want to get better at Design.

1) How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek (Ted Talk)