As I mentioned in my post about Passion Projects, many great designers do what they do because they love it. What they make is a product of passion. And because of this very important connection with the work, every criticism is like chiseling away a piece of the designers heart. It freaking hurts. It hurts real bad.
The nature of design yields a certain percentage of subjectivity. Even the most informed and skilled designer faces the reality that no matter what they create, someone, somewhere will not like it.
The reality is that no design solution is ever perfect. There isn’t a single project I have delivered to a client that I felt was complete. I cry as it goes out the door, “If I only had two more days on this.” Through the process of design, designers must get lost in the content. This immersion helps generate a wealth of creativity that speaks to the needs of the project and its goals. This total absorption puts the designer on the pulse of the problem and thus on the path to a solution. The biggest side effect of this is forgetting about the designers primary role — get to the heart of the matter. Here is where critique becomes critical.
“Do not seek praise, seek criticism.”
– Paul Arden, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be.
As early as possible the designer must admit his or her faults and seek knowledge that will help fill those voids. The fastest way to do this is to fail fast and fail better. Try things. Get feedback. Learn, evolve and move closer towards something greater.
Designers must solve problems while working within constraints. These constraints have purpose and are determined by stakeholders, behaviors, functionality and the world around us. Because of this, perfecting a design solution must involve a group of different perspectives, subject matter experts and yes… a difference of opinions.
So, face the facts. Your designs will never be perfect. Just throw in the towel now. Admit your faults, surround yourself with smart people and invite them to tell you what is wrong with your design. You should be humbled, proud and excited about a world that places great value on design. The designer is a treasured gatekeeper to awesomeness. Designers impose order, channeling the ideas of a few to create solutions that benefit the many. So embrace your throne of awesomeness by seeking counsel from an army of colleagues. It is that army of critique that will keep you on that throne of making awesome things. And we need awesome things.