A woman walking a yellow line on a highway
Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

Walking the Fine Line in Design

Koan #46

Chris Kiess
Published in
3 min readJan 4, 2024


Early in my career as a designer, it seemed as though I had all the answers. I was quick to jump to solutions and spent a lot less time thinking about the designs I was sending out into the world. I thought I knew what I was doing.

Now in mid-career, I recognize the folly of my youth more readily. I spend a lot more time thinking through solutions, gathering feedback and research. I hem and haw sometimes, considering all the different types of end-users a product meets the needs for. I occasionally find myself in a decision spiral and realize I think I don’t know what I’m doing.

Here is what I’ve come to realize over the years.

There is nothing more dangerous than someone who thinks they know what they’re doing when they don’t. But a nearly equal danger is the person who knows what they’re doing but doesn’t think so. Good design walks a fine line between these two mental states.

I envy the young or new designer for their fearless nature. They have a confidence I know I once had. It’s not always a healthy confidence. But there is a sureness there I no longer possess. I question everything.

Every once in a long while, I find myself in a state of overconfidence and am quickly reminded of all the projects where I was so certain. But I am more aware of…



Chris Kiess
Design Koans

Healthcare User Experience Designer in the Greater Chicago area