Practicing Perfectionism as a Web and Graphic Designer

By / Sep 13, 2011 / Tips
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The idea of artistic perfectionism lies in a duality. Most web designers try to perfect their work with creative updates and patches. Not only to code, but also in Photoshop mockups and Illustrator vectors as well. There is a limit to this perfectionism mindset where you can take things too far overboard.

I’m hoping to look a bit deeper into this topic as to what defines perfectionism. What are some of the key benefits to being a perfectionist, especially with digital artistic works? The Internet has grown dramatically and connects into billions of peoples lives. Thus you can see why designers are often combing their work 5 or 6 times!

Levels of Attention

The basic definition of a perfectionist is somebody who requires all work to attain 100% perfect status in completion. Or in other words any completed product below attaining perfection would be deemed unacceptable. Granted, the design profession is often very subjective. How some may define “Good” or “Perfect” design properties can shift from person to person.

Readers focus and attention

If you are somebody who pays careful attention to pixel-perfect layouts in Photoshop, kudos! You are one of the few designers out there who care enough in perfection to create the best possible products. This brings a type of joy and pleasure into your life seeing ideas come to fruition through your own hard work.

But there is another light to perfectionism which can reduce productivity dramatically. When you look over a project and it seems nothing is close to finished. You may not even bother getting started with work because it seems like the to-do list is never ending. Becoming neurotic about your work is a very dark realm where minute updates don’t appear to be very impactful.

Develop Personal Guidelines

Focusing a lot of energy into the neurotic detail-oriented mentality takes you away from the ultimate goal. After a certain amount of time nothing will please you anymore. It will be almost impossible to get anything done!

The lone writer desk

You must develop a set of personal standards and guidelines for your work. There isn’t truly a specific point where your design work is completed. Perfectionists are creating these ideas in their mind. So if that’s the case you should consciously become aware of your own stresses. Often you’ll find your work is just fine – so stop giving yourself a hard time!

Keep Neat and Organized

If you are going to become a practicing perfectionist you should start in the real world. If your desk and work area are cluttered with nonsense you’ll never be able to keep a good focus. Spend a bit of time cleaning up around your work area if need be. For those who keep to-do lists and calendars in a digital program it may help to re-organize your tasks in a friendlier manner as well.

Solid focus is the name of the game. If you are ever to get anything done you’ll need to focus at only one point in the process at a time. Having yourself organized and cleaned up is almost essential to keeping a healthy focus on your work. It’s absolutely okay to perfect your ideas and spend more time on projects. But if it seems weeks are passing with no improvement you should consider logging each of your daily tasks to protect against lost time.

Baking sugar oat nut cookies

As perfectionists we tend to get caught up in mental ruts. These are glitches in our schedules where we obsess over one or two small-detailed items. This behavior is certainly fine when you’re meant to be focusing on smaller areas. But if a couple days pass by and you’re re-building a draft for the 4th time, this could mean you’re in for some trouble.

Continue to Push Your Knowledge

Digital professionals are known for also getting caught up in their own minds. After studying web design or graphics design for 3-4 years, you may be of the opinion that you know it all. But always keep yourself learning new things!

School Computer rows for learning

Especially with Internet technology the passing days bring about vast changes. And it seems we are seeing more of these changes in fewer lengths of time. If you continue to challenge yourself with difficult and new materials it’ll keep you on the ball with upcoming technologies. You’ll be able to relate with designers easier since you can share ideas and tidbits of information.

Perfectionism comes seeded within holding a drive to be the best. Since there is only one “best” this is slightly unrealistic. But you can always design to the best of your abilities! If you are learning new techniques and happy with the designs you create don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You’re choosing to improve your own wisdom and understanding of the digital world which can be a phenomenal experience.

Remove Yourself from Duality

Accomplishments are never felt as strongly through other people. This duality of trying to please others with our design work can become very tiring! You should realize early on that designing for a career is rewarding in and of itself.

alternating yin/yang piano keys

Having any type of audience to look over and appreciate your works should feel remarkable. And to create and launch your own webpages in this era is nothing short of magical. Instead of focusing on the perfect layout or gradient color try directing your attention to the final product. With enough practice you can train yourself to finish a task much quicker with less draining energies. Then afterwards take a step back to clean up details and purify the design to your own liking.

Without the duality of good and bad design you’re simply left with trends. Different styles and unique patterns which can be seen in the vast quantities of website work. Really creative designers are on the cutting edge of these new trends for web and mobile design. Keeping yourself in-the-know and less distracted by smaller details will give you a much better chance of achieving happiness as an illustrator or web designer.

Conclusion

To be a perfectionist in your work is not a bad thing! It means you truly love what you’re doing and want others to love your work, too. But when you become obsessive over designing it seems project work stalls and nothing can get done.

Hopefully these tips can settle well with all digital/graphics designers. It is a tough profession with a lot of heavy competition. But never force anything into your work. By letting creative energies flow naturally you’ll feel a sense of invigoration and freedom from the abnormal neurotic standpoint. Let us know your thoughts or tricks when it comes to perfectionism in web design using the discussion area below.

About the Author

Jake Rocheleau is a social media enthusiast and Internet entrepreneur. He can be followed on twitter - @jakerocheleau His presence on the web can be found at JakeRocheleau.com.

13 Comments

  1. Jenn Staz
    September 13, 2011

    Yes, perfectionism is a blessing and a curse. When applied towards the beginning of a project, perfectionism can be a huge creative block, as you said. By only accepting the best from yourself too early, you may become overwhelmingly afraid of failure, which may result in nothing or not much getting done. Perfectionism is best applied in the very final stages of a project. Great article!

    Reply
  2. Johannes Holmberg
    September 13, 2011

    Thanks man! Really inspiring article, I’m an perfectionist myself but sometimes I just have to let go :)

    Reply
  3. Reynaldo St. Bernard
    September 13, 2011

    Indeed very inspiring! Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Jarod Online
    September 13, 2011

    Personally, I don’t even like the word perfectionism. I prefer the word “better,” because that’s all you can do.

    I find practice to be the ultimate weapon for success, and that failure is apart of practice, which is a part of being or getting better.

    This might sound weird, but it’s true (at least for me it is).

    Reply
  5. I DESIGN STUDIO
    September 14, 2011

    Great thing to read!

    We usually deal it in a way that we have the view that something great will be created for the current project. Then, we narrow this view to 1 up to 3 chosen most important details, which to be perfectioned. This gives each project the uniqeness without overloading the working time and the communication with the client about the revisions.
    Twitted already for our readers. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Sarah
    September 21, 2011

    I think that perfectionism is a lie. A false reality that we as designers think we CAN achieve. Perfect means that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a layout or design. That’s a really harsh standard to hold ourselves to when we are humans who tend to err and where opinions vary widely.

    I call myself a recovering perfectionist. I’ve learned to do my utmost best with the parameters that I’ve been given with the time allowed. Then I also have come to the conclusion that if we need to base our worth on others opinions of our work, then that’s where it’s a slippery slope. We can’t please everyone. In the end as designers we need to have a good hold of ourselves and not lose ourselves to the design, but rather remember that WE are the creators and the creation does not own or define us.

    Reply
  7. Michael Marcos
    October 20, 2011

    Yeah me too. Im a perfectionist to the extent that I never had the time to finish my personal website because Im not satisfied with the design I made…Your article has helped me a lot man…Thanks so much!!
    I will bookmark this site. From now on I will follow all the articles and tutorials you have I think it will help me to become better in my career. keep it up man..God bless!!

    Reply
  8. Van
    November 21, 2011

    Perfection is a good trait to have depending on how you utilize it. If you forget the objective and try to perfect an element that bugs you, you will find yourself hanging by the thread down the pipe. I agree with you that focusing on the objective before the detail is the best way of utilizing your creativity and time to complete a design project. I don’t usually leave comment, but I like your insight on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  9. Web Design Washington
    November 27, 2011

    Thanks for sharing such inspiring post. Looking forward for more. Keep up!

    Reply
  10. Shalini
    December 1, 2011

    Really Nice Post!!
    Very good practicing perfectionism tips for both Web designers as well as Graphic designers.

    Thanks for Sharing

    Reply
  11. Cesar Vargas
    December 6, 2011

    Nice Article!

    Reply
  12. Jitendra Shah
    December 13, 2011

    inspirational

    Reply
  13. Jennifer Obert
    April 3, 2013

    As a graphic artist, I need to be a perfectionist on my own work. I always need to give my best to earn money. :)

    Reply

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