My inspiration in 2018 for re-approaching how I do work came from an Eric Speakman poster. The poster read “Done is better than prefect.” It’s misspelled, but hey it’s done!
It’s been one of those things that I’ve been reflecting on and re-evaluating. Case in point, as of this episode.
Many may notice that my own personal website has been under construction for the better part of three months. Truthfully, this isn’t a procrastination thing. There’s a local copy of it sitting on my computer that I have been tweaking and adjusting and obsessing about.
While I was writing this episode, I was laughing at how I need to take my own advice. When my website is sitting on my computer, it’s not doing me any good.
One of the things I learned when I was working under a senior designer at my first studio job, was to remember that most non-designers don’t pick up on details like designers do. I’m continually reminded by this when I’m out with my wife. I’ll notice things like the kerning in a logo, or a restaurant using Comic Sans for the menu font.
My wife looks past these details, because she’s not a designer. She doesn’t have the same eye I do. To her, the graphic accomplishes its task as long as its not being distracting to her.
On the flip side, designers get stuck thinking someone will immediately notice the kerning is off or the font isn’t pairing well. Of course if things go too far, people do notice. But we set up this level of expectation for ourselves that it has to be a certain level of “perfect” or its not good enough to release.
This sort of obsession over the details can hold a project back. Its holding me back from launching a website. It holds me back from more important details, like a landing page that needs to convert. Meanwhile, our list of other projects continues to grow and never get done.
Obsessing over details to the degree we do doesn’t bode many favors to ourselves. This is different from paying attention to the details that matter — it goes beyond that.
It gets easier to worry about the important details as you gain experience with different styles, tools or methods. If its a digital project, there’s always the opportunity to come back to tweak or adjust things.
If its a print project, we live in an age where short-run printing is a thing. This is great! We don’t need to commit to a 10,000 piece run of business cards right away. Print 10 and see how they look and feel. As a freelancer, you can even print a run of 200 business cards and observe the reaction you get passing them out. Refine and adjust based on the reception they get.
Bottom line, there’s no final deadline like there used to be. We can let go, step back, and realize that we’re doing good work. It’s a freeing feeling and helps us take a step up with our talent.
We don’t need everything to be perfect — just close. Expecting perfection every time is how your website sits on your computer and not doing any good for anyone.