Five on Design  |  Episode 21  |  March 16, 2018

Are you your own worst client?

Things are about to get a little bit real for me.

Recently, I went through the process of redesigning and finally relaunching my website. A few episodes ago, I touched base on this a little bit when I was talking about ditching perfection and not letting it hold you back from launching something.

It was one of those episodes where I stepped back and realized that I needed to do better at taking my own advice.

A common joke among designers is how we’re our own worst client. I know this is often used in jest, but we use it as a cover at times when we really are our own worst client.

We don’t have to be that way. It’s not worth beating yourself up on every personal project. 

One of the easiest signs for me, is the nitpicking and expectations of perfection in everything I do. As designers, we have the eye to see what’s right and wrong, or if things are out of place. And yes — its in our DNA to notice bad kerning.

But the nitpicking and constant expectations of perfectionism isn’t healthy. 

You may fall into the trap of always tearing your design apart and starting over again. But not just once — repeatedly. It gets to the point where deadlines and launch dates get pushed back.

It’s okay to waver on some design decisions. We all do it, especially as we start to learn more about how a project is coming together.

I recently moved my website away from WordPress (for my own reasons) and started learning a new content management system. In the new environment, I was constantly going back and re-writing or designing things because I was learning something new. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle like that, but at some point I had to stop. There becomes a diminishing rate of return and I had to understand it was as good as it was going to be.

Now in the case of website, you can always go back and tweak things along the way. You can launch something that’s 80% decent and use the remainder of your time focusing on some other things to get things ready to go. But you don’t have to deliver a 100% perfect website anymore. That’s the beauty of web!

Even my logo design process wasn’t safe.

What I originally put on Dribble, and what effectively was my logo, ended up receiving numerous tweaks before I ever fully started using it. I went as far as ordering business cards, looking at them, and realizing I didn’t like how the logo printed and threw them all away

The bright side is that I didn’t spend a whole lot or order a whole lot. So it wasn’t that expensive of a mistake. But realizing that things don’t have to be final 100% all the time can help take some pressure off. 

It can become a chore after a while when you’ve hit the restart button three or four times. What’s fun the first time feels frustrating the fourth time. After a while, you realize you just need to deliver something.

Perfectionism shouldn’t be holding you back. Being your own worst client only succeeds in driving you off the deep end. As designers, we need to cut ourselves some slack and allow ourselves to make mistakes. There’s no need to be perfect 100% of the time!