Overcoming Design Perfectionism

Design perfectionism can be a crippling characteristic that drives many designers insane; and in extreme cases ensures that projects never see the light of day.

The tendency to agonise over every detail, ensuring that a design is pixel perfect in every browser, on every device, at every resolution. That it will perfectly suit every user and meet their every requirement.

This process can result in a never ending spiral of frustration, striving to reach the point when a design can be labelled as ‘done’ and released for the world to marvel at.

It’s completely understandable, we pride ourselves on our work and want to show the world just how talented we are by producing beautiful, outstanding pieces of work.

In some cases however, being so overly self-critical and striving for constant perfection can paralyse a project. It is important to realise that a design is NEVER done.

Design is an ongoing process, that requires constant attention and iteration.

It is simply impossible to preempt every scenario in which someone will use a site, and even more so to anticipate every user requirement pre-launch.

Once we let go of the idea of perfection, we can begin to ship products; putting them out there in the real world, for real users to begin interacting with.

It’s OK if it doesn’t look the same in every browser, it’s OK if your sidebar padding is a few pixels off and it’s OK if something breaks – it was guaranteed to happen anyway.

It is much more beneficial to have something out there, with real users than to have a project stagnate on your desktop while you painfully cycle through numerous changes in the unachievable quest for perfection.

Real users will provide valuable feedback which you can use to constantly iterate and improve the design. Without them, you are only designing for yourself. Even if you create the perfect product in your eyes, unless you have a base of happy users, then it is pointless.

This doesn’t suggest that you release sub-standard products or you don’t pay attention to the details, the aim is to highlight the importance of shipping, and to realise that you will never reach the holy grail of design perfection.

It simply doesn’t exist. Just get the project out there, it’s fine to tweak, iterate and improve as you go along.