How many times do web design clients say “Something’s missing in the design, it looks incomplete”? Project managers and account managers in the trenches will tell you that it happens more times than they care to remember.
And while there are many reasons why designers send designs to clients which feel unfinished, Design perfectionism seems to be the number one culprit. Tinkering with specific elements in the design to make them appear perfect, designers lose focus and neglect looking at the whole design.
Spending a lot of time on perfecting a few pixels messes with the delivery timeline and they have to rush to make the deadline. The result is an anxious, tired designer and a half-done design.
The long and short of it is no, perfect design is a myth. There are always things that you can improve in your design. And that’s because good design doesn’t follow a rigid path or have a set number of steps. It’s more important to put things out there and then make gradual changes as you learn more about the design’s audience, client’s goals, and constraints that define creativity.
Perfectionism in design is problematic. In chasing pixel-perfect visuals, you’re troubled all the while and mentally spent by the end of it. As a result, you create substandard work which doesn’t live up to your expectations. Account managers have a hard time selling the work to the client as well.
Don’t sink into design perfectionism as the clock runs out and you miss out on what could’ve been your golden productive hours for the project. At our digital agency, here’s how it used to contribute to project delays:
So then what’s the way out?
To be honest, there’s no single solution. A number of things have worked for various people and agencies. Finding the root cause(s) is the first step. After that, you need to set up systems, conduct activities, and train the staff to deal with perfectionism when it creeps its ugly head. It’s a slow and deliberate process but it has worked for our agency and I see no reason why it wouldn’t work for you or your agency.
I’ve shared 5 things here that we did at our own digital agency to make sure that we got rid of perfectionistic attitudes among our creative team.
Overcoming the troublesome perfectionistic mindset you’ve knowingly or unknowingly adopted requires you to be vigilant when its symptoms arise. But once you start recognizing the early signs of it, you can habituate yourself to control the intrusive urges.
Starting small does not mean starting weak, it means quite the opposite. Starting small with a strong mindset is the first step you take to prepare your subconscious to let go of the dominating effect of design perfectionism. It will let you appreciate a design that may not be perfect according to you but good enough for the people to believe there can’t be a better version to this.
Design in sprints and consider the whole picture instead of focusing on smaller elements. Once you start shedding the fear of perfecting every element of design bit by bit, you will start noticing how the design you thought would not leave a good impression, does!
Believe it or not, deadlines help you get work done fast. It surprisingly keeps you in an alert mode to produce quality work within a time constraint that you otherwise would have found an impossible task to accomplish. Challenge yourself with realistic but stringent deadlines to unleash your true potential.
You don’t need to beat yourself up and produce a half-hearted or unpolished web design, but try to perform to the best of your capabilities to look at it and say ‘not bad, I did it!’.
Also, you can try this technique by establishing milestones to finish a long client project. Review your work after you hit every milestone. Go back and make all the necessary modifications wherever required. But never get stuck and stop progressing with your design process.
The 80/20 rule works like wonders in curing design perfectionism. According to this technique, you put 20% of your thoughts to produce a polished output with only 80% precision. It turns out far better than the designers who function with the mindset of putting 100% and still remain highly dissatisfied even after giving all in.
Look for various touch points that you want to focus on to make your web design stand out. When you begin to tally all the checkpoints and start crossing them out from your list, you can be certain by that time that you did a phenomenal job that meets all the benchmarks of what a good design outline should consist of.
It might sound absurd, but not as much as dreaming of delivering a perfect design. If you want to overcome the obsession with design perfectionism, you need to start focusing on delivering while not caring too much about quality.
(This advice works only for those who already care A LOT about the quality. So if you’re not a perfectionist, please do care about the quality more than quantity.)
This doesn’t mean you won’t put in your best foot forward and use it as an excuse to justify poor quality work. Rather it will make you feel comfortable to kick out the thought of making a design perfect even if it’s near to perfect. This will lead you to calm your chaotic mind down and design stress-free.
Lastly, you need to understand as an agency or as a designer that getting some work done is always better than not being able to produce anything at all.
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KK patel is an experienced content marketer with a love for SaaS tech products. W3Dart being his brainchild, KK has always been a proactive problem solver. His tech prowess, combined with his leadership skills, led to the creation of this unique and powerful feedback tool. He KK patel loves exploring different forms of inbound marketing and taking on challenges.