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Design and the Rest of Us: Saying No

Recently, Apple popularized the concept of how important it is to say “no” in the world of design, “a thousand no’s for every yes.” Good designers have always known this, but Apple brought it to the attention of everyone when they aired a commercial about their design process. It’s important to know, however, that this isn’t just some trite saying. It’s a very important part of the design process.

They say that writing is rewriting. It’s also true that designing is redesigning. Once you’ve asked all the appropriate questions about your project and come up with a first draft of your design, you’ll need to evaluate it and you’ll need to ask others to evaluate it. At this point, you’ll need to be willing to (as William Faulkner once put it) “kill your darlings.”

Your favorite aspects of your design may be the things that need to go before the design is truly good. This happens to the best of us, not just beginners. Sometimes you’ll base an entire design around a typeface that you really like, only to realize that it’s a bit hard to read and that you need to change fonts—which of course is going to likely require other changes as well. But your design will be the better for it.

No decision that you make should be set in stone and you should have a good reason for everything that you do. Part of evaluating your design will be making sure that you’ve got a reason for all you decisions. The more intentional you are, the better the design generally will be. You might have picked a color because it’s your favorite. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice, but you will need to be willing to look for better colors that fit the design you’ve made better. Ideally, you’ll be able to point to every aspect of your design and explain your rational for doing it that way.

Something you’ll need in this is humility. You need to know that you can make bad choices and you’ll need to be able to admit they’re bad choices. Probably the worst thing a designer can be is arrogant. You might have a natural gift for designing things that look good. But until you’re willing to admit that your design could be better, it never will be.

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This article was posted on 08/08/2014 . It relates to these topics:

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