or The Importance Of Staying True To Your Design-self.
Today is a (not so) sad day. Today we say good-bye to our lifelong friend, Yes.
Yes was important to us and gave us many joys. Our childhood friends, our first love, and our first payed gigs.
But Yes betrayed us. Yes made us stay up ’til 2 on a sunday to deliver the last minute changes the client asked for. Yes made a compelling case and convinced us to take that “pro-bono” project so we could build a “solid” portfolio. Yes let us down </3
Good-bye Yes. You won’t be missed.
It’s time to get to know No. It will take some time to love No, but be patient… No will save you, your fellow designers, your clients and the world from terrible things.
Once you love No, you’ll realise what you do is just as important as what you choose not to do.
Say No for the sake of the world
Victor Papanek in his 1972 book Design for the Real World said “There are professions more harmful than -industrial-design, but only a few”.
Our job as designers is to keep harmful things from being designed and built, specially in this digital age, where you can easily get access to millions of people’s information in matter of seconds.
Remember the Facebook graph search, or Secret? Even good intended products can potentially harm others.
Before taking a project, ask yourself: Should this exist? Is this useful to people? or is it harmful?
You are responsible for the work you put in the world, and you are also responsible for the effect it has in people who use it.
Say No for the sake of your fellow designers
Saying Yes to an impossible budget, to a project without a downpayment or to infinite last minute changes will hurt you and spread the idea that design is not valuable.
The answer is a big, bold, beautiful No.
Just like surgeons, engineers and lawyers, designers are have an important job in the world and we must protect it.
If you want to learn more about the business of Design, read Mike Monteiro’s book, Design is a Job.
Say no for the sake of the project
Let’s get this straight, your job is not to do what you’re told, your job is to ask why. Your job is to simplify, to be an advocate for the users you’re designing for. Your job is to focus.
Focus is what makes great design, great. Figure out the -one- problem you are solving and who are you solving it for. Say no to “nice-to-haves”, non- user-centered requests and decoration. This will definitely increase the chances of success of your project.
Start saying No.
Ok, you already get why No is important. Now it’s time to practice it.
- Be patient, saying No will take time. Cultivate trust and respect in your relationships and use it in your favor, and never forget that saying no doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole.
- Remember you and your client/boss/stakeholders share a common goal. Define it early in the relationship; when everyone knows what success looks like, conversations are objective and goal-oriented instead of personal.
- This one might sound a bit weird, but: save money. Having enough money in the bank will give you the confidence to say no and stay true to your job as a designer. If you have savings, getting fired or losing a client won’t mean the end of the world.
Thanks to Max@23 for the amazing illustrations and Cit@23 and Rogelio@23 for helping me develop this story.