Perfectionism Monster Influencing Designers
Sep 15, 2023
4 min read
In the world of design, the pursuit of perfection is an ever-present and often elusive goal. As a professional designer with a decade of experience, I have come to understand that the desire to create the perfect design can be both a driving force and a significant obstacle.
In the world of design, the pursuit of perfection is an ever-present and often elusive goal.
As a professional designer with a decade of experience, I have come to understand that the desire to create the perfect design can be both a driving force and a significant obstacle. While striving for perfection can lead to outstanding results, it also comes with its fair share of challenges and hurdles. I will try to explain various obstacles that designers face when trying to "make it perfect.” Although not a deep dive, I may expand on this topic in the future.
One of the most common obstacles designers encounter in their quest for perfection is the tendency towards endless iteration. Designers are notorious for constantly tweaking and refining their work, convinced that just one more change will make it perfect. This cycle of endless revisions can lead to missed deadlines, increased stress, and, ironically, a design that may not necessarily be any better than it was before. As I evolved as a designer, I started to utilize the Pareto principle. Basically, 20% of my design decisions will have 80% influence on the final outcome. If I’m dwelling over a design decision for too long, I ask myself: “Is this something that will highly influence the outcome?” If not, then I stick with my first thought about that, as usually, the first one is the right one. This immensely helped in saving my precious time, as well as with decision fatigue.
Perfectionism is Subjective
Perfection in design is subjective. What one person considers perfect may not align with another's vision. This subjectivity can be frustrating for designers, as they grapple with the challenge of pleasing not only themselves but also clients, stakeholders, and audiences. Striking the right balance between personal satisfaction and meeting the expectations of others can be a significant obstacle.
Design projects often (all the time) come with deadlines, and the pursuit of perfection can clash with the constraints of time. Spending too much time on a single project can result in missed opportunities and lost income (this is especially true for freelancers). Designers must learn to balance their pursuit of perfection with the practical realities of project timelines.
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure can be paralyzing for designers. When perfection becomes the ultimate goal, the risk of making mistakes becomes intolerable. This fear can stifle creativity and innovation, preventing designers from taking risks or pushing boundaries. It's essential to recognize that making mistakes is a natural part of the creative process and can often lead to breakthroughs.
Overlooking the Big Picture
Focusing on minute details in the quest for perfection can sometimes cause designers to overlook the big picture. They may get so caught up in perfecting individual elements that they lose sight of the overall design's coherence and effectiveness. It's crucial to step back periodically and evaluate the design as a whole.
Burnout and Mental Exhaustion
The relentless pursuit of perfection can lead to burnout and mental exhaustion. Designers often invest significant emotional energy into their work, and the pressure to make everything perfect can take a toll on their well-being. Finding a healthy work-life balance and recognizing when to step away from a project are essential for long-term success in the field.
Changing Trends and Standards
Design trends and standards are constantly evolving. What may be considered perfect today may not hold up in the future. Designers must strike a balance between creating work that is relevant and innovative while also meeting current standards of quality.
Let’s wrap up
Striving for perfection in design is a great goal, but it's not easy. There are many problems that designers face when they try to make everything perfect. These problems include constantly making small changes, not being sure what perfect really means, being afraid to make mistakes, not having enough time, focusing too much on details and forgetting the big picture, getting really tired from all of it.
To overcome these obstacles, designers must strike a balance between striving for excellence and recognizing when a design is "perfect enough" to meet its intended purpose. Perfection may be elusive, but it is in the journey towards it that designers often find their greatest growth and achievements.