Early in my career, I was really busy trying to learn the tools of the trade. I was obsessed with color combinations, animations, gradients, and typefaces. I’d get incredibly excited when I created a cool-looking new design or learned a new way to build something in Photoshop.
This excitement would inevitably turn into frustration when I showed it to a client, and they didn’t see how clever my solution was, and wanted to go with something else. WTF? I put so much work into this, don’t you see how cool and great this design is?!
This is the epitome of ego-centric design and something you see a lot of in the industry right now.
You’re not an artist. You’re a toolmaker.
The truth about design is that no regular person will ever look at your work and think to themselves “wow, I am so delighted by this micro-interaction the designer chose to use here”. People don’t care about your work — people are just trying to get through their day. Life is hard. They use your product for a few seconds, and then they need to go pick up their kids from school or meet their friends for dinner. They hope that your product makes it a little bit easier for them to get through their day.
You’re not an artist. You’re a toolmaker. If the tool doesn’t work right, it doesn’t matter how stylish it is. You can add a little style to it after you’ve figured out that it legitimately makes people’s lives a little easier.
Great Design Is Humble
Approaching design with the humility that comes from this mindset is the true meaning of human-centered design. It’s the core of true customer delight.
Share your story
What has your experience been, working with designers? Have they been human-centered or ego-centric? Share it with us in the comments.
Jamal Nichols runs Truth About Design, the platform for candid truths and guidance for the design industry.