“STUDY FOR THE LAST SUPPER” / wikipaintings.org

Why do we insist on hiding the process?

Emily Campbell
Aug 9, 2013 · 2 min read

If I gave you a nickel for every designer’s bio that included the words “passionate” and “pixel perfection”…you would have a lot of nickels. Generally, this is the designer trying to express that they take pride in their work. That’s great, but why, as an industry, are we so obsessed with presenting perfection at every step? What is wrong with taking pride in our progress?

Web designers are in the business of selling a dynamic product, not a static image. Especially in the mobile era, static PSDs represent only a breakpoint within a larger context. If we insist on only showcasing polished and primed mockups, it often forces our designs (and ourselves) to be less flexible.

“But wait,” you cry. “I can’t post my work to Dribbble until it’s perfect!”

Ignore, for the moment, the single-sentence comments you may receive if you post something in flux, “the upload icon (that I know you will be re-rendering in CSS anyway) is slightly off by about a degree to the south-south-west.” Wouldn’t it be more useful to get the feedback of your extremely talented peers as you go along?

Especially for the freelancers in the room who can’t receive immediate feedback from their coworkers, constructive criticism is the best way to refine your design or hone your instincts.

Plus, being perfect takes a lot of time! Working in a fast-paced, iterative environment requires an agile workflow. That, in of itself, makes the case for moving to the browser as quickly as possible. However, even if PSD mockups are preferred or required by you or your client, they should be seen as a tool, a means to an end.

Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age.” — Albert Einstein

I’m not advocating for apathy or sloppy work; Aiming for excellence in the final product is always the goal. However, when presenting a mockup, it should be ok if an element is a few pixels off, especially if it saves you (and your client’s budget) an hour of work. Certainly there is an ethical argument to be made there.

Mockups should be a way of communicating ideas, patterns, tone, etc. Refine them to the point where they are useful, get feedback, and move forward.

The world is imperfect, and fluid, and active, and constantly improving. Photoshop is a powerful and useful tool, but I implore you: respect the process. Take pride in iterations. Welcome feedback. Explore.

After all, practice makes perfect.

    Emily Campbell

    Written by

    Design Specialist, Design Transformation @ InVision. Product designer, manager, & strategist.

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