Keep your friends closer, and get over yourself

June
21
2010

Freelancing in web design can be lonely. Sometimes when you try to strike the perfect balance between making something beautiful with making something that communicates effectively, the result gets lop-sided because you can’t help but let yourself get in the way.

Communicating ideas clearly necessitates the consideration of the widest possible audience. This is in direct conflict with the designer himself, because he has his own way of interpreting things. Inevitably a big dollop of “you” gets into the recipe. It just can’t help itself.

Design in black and whiteI’ve often found myself asking my wife or friends their opinions on certain design matters, and almost immediately wondering why I’m such a grouchy bastard. I can tell by the way I start poking holes in their opinions almost immediately that I’m too close to my own vision, and I’m not actively listening. Longing for the company of “creatives” and design professionals, I convince myself that my loved ones just don’t get it, and go back to work frustrated.

As it turns out though, they’re probably the perfect people to be asking. They are, after all, members of the “unwashed public”, your average John “Q” Citizens. These are the people that I need to present solutions for — my clients’ clients.

I’m not suggesting that just because my neighbour loves purple type over a yellow background that it’s a great idea. I’m just suggesting that if a design makes the core message unclear to the people around me, it’s probably not a terrible idea to zip it and listen for a minute.

I’m sure if I pay attention, there’s probably even some free inspiration in some of that feedback that I can really use.

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