(Mini) Sasha’s Soapbox: mediocrity isn’t amusing

I’m trying to be more positive these days. But let’s be realistic, I wouldn’t have to try so hard if there weren’t so many things that rub me completely the wrong way. Clearly that can only mean one thing: I must tell you about these things, for only by sharing them will I ever be rid of them. So it is with encouragement akin to: “I’m surprised it took you this long” from those who know me best that I embark on this journey to illuminate the deepest grumbles of my professional life. Please allow me to serenade you from my soapbox…


 

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Just wanted to put in my 2 cents about this graphic that’s been going around lately. It’s rubbing me the wrong way and it’s not doing anyone any favors. As we know, I’m not good at keeping these kinds of things to myself.

When this graphic gets posted the caption is usually along the lines of “You always have that one client who makes you do this.” And the comments range from “Only one client?” to “Sooo true!”

Let’s stop blaming our clients when we under-deliver, mmkay? Because the problem this graphic illustrates is that of a designer either not knowing how to listen to his/her clients or not knowing how to properly solve his/her clients’ problems through design. If you can’t deliver a solution in two (maybe 3) rounds of revisions then you’ve got a communication problem on your hands, and clear communication is part of every designer’s job description. Do better, try harder, improve, do your job! For the love of god, stop blaming your clients!

And as far as this just being true for all designers, because it’s somehow in our nature to be indecisive – if you lack confidence and are not focused on using design for solving a specific problem – then you will absolutely create endless iterations of the same design. Maybe you’re just new to design, in which case, iterate until the cows come home. Practice your craft! But if you’ve been around for a while and still do this then you’re just moving pixels around the screen. Being able to identify the problem that need to be solved and coming up with the appropriate design solution is part of your job. Do some sketching before sitting down in front a screen – you’ll be able to work out a great many ideas and see which ones work before creating a single pixel. Focus on the problems you’re trying to solve and the points you need to make with your design. If an iteration doesn’t serve the goals of your project then it adds no value to said project.

So either way you look at it, this graphic isn’t doing any favors for the design profession which is why I don’t understand why so many designers seem to love it. It perpetuates a stereotype of designers as, at the very least, pixel pushing monkeys. Frankly, I think better of my fellow designers (and myself). We are an intelligent bunch focused on providing solutions that work to solve out clients’ needs and help them achieve their goals. This graphic devalues the work that we do. It’s disrespectful.

Let’s not accept mediocrity as a norm. Let’s recognize our shortcomings and work hard to overcome them. Let’s hold ourselves to slightly higher standards and strive to achieve those standards. Mediocrity isn’t amusing, it’s infuriating.