Aaron Brewer

Your Most Difficult Client, Yourself

Published by Aaron Brewer on 08/22/13 in Design.

Your Most Difficult Client, Yourself

Throughout the past few months I have been working to redesign and develop a new personal website, accompanied with a blog. I don't think I have ever had such difficulty finding a design that I was happy with, nor a proper code base I had been comfortable building on. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that the hardest client you will ever have an antagonizing relationship with, will be yourself.

For the sake of the article, this is what I have come to conclude, seeing as I created nine iterations of my personal website before releasing anything. So, not all of you whom read this will be able to relate, but some will.

The Problem

The Perfection Complex

It's hard to imagine putting a representation of yourself out for everyone to view, especially if the thought of your work drawing the line of possible employment or not brings in other variables. Before you start building a representation of yourself, you have to start asking questions about yourself, such as;

  • How do I define myself?
  • What are my goals in life and career?
  • How do I want others to view me?
  • Do I live up to the standards of others in my department or of my age?

Before too long you start to drive yourself insane with the possibilities of how you may present yourself or not. The moment when you think you have an idea, it is shot down by another idea, another idea, and so forth; until you reach a point where you tend to break down. It'll start to get better, eventually. Which leads us to our next section...

3,000 Iterations and Counting

Once you have finally managed to reach an idea of how you see yourself or how others may perceive you, you begin to construct a representation. Before too long you begin to point out flaws in your work, regardless of what others may tell you... This is bad.

Once you start obsessing over the little details of your representation you continue to work on the flaws as if they were the most important part. Eventually you will become so frustrated that you decide to scrap the project and start over with a different idea. Not only do you fail greatly at this, but you continue to start a family of representations, never destined to finish one iteration, but to continue to work on new ones in an endless loop.

There will be a few times where you revert to the beginning of this section before restarting The Perfection Complex. But eventually, you will make it to the Acceptance stage.

Acceptance

After you have gone through a good number of iterations and have finally come to a reasonable conclusion you begin to dedicate the majority of your time working on it. You will notice flaws in this iteration, but it becomes a clear waste of time to focus strictly on those details. A large majority of the time, if not much more than anticipated and planned for, has passed and you have finished your representation.

It's time for release, but are you truly happy with it? Of course not, the reason being is noted in the next section.

The More You Know, the Less You Know

If you are anything like me, you want to know everything and not just what is needed, but what you think is expected by others. But the beauty of it all is that you will never know everything, you just have to learn as much as you can. Once you start learning new code, techniques, and skills you try to apply them to your work... But then you also want to learn the best practices of those techniques and skills, along with learning the ins and outs of the new code you had previously learned.

The more you know, the more you start to criticize your work and the more you start to (unfortunately) drive yourself insane.

There is a solution to these problems, and it's relatively simple.

The Solution

Perfection Isn't Always Best

Perfection at it's finest is unheard of, nothing will ever be perfect. No design, no code base, nothing... Fortunately though, we as humans, have different taste and tend to gravitate towards different styles compared to our counterparts. Focusing on perfection will not only waste our own time, but it will slowly degrade our work.

Beauty is not only defined as perfection by some, but is also defined as imperfection to others... Therefore the imperfections in your work may be perfection to others.

Your Time is Your Most Valuable Asset

Spending too much time on one project may lessen your horizons, and may close doors to opportunities to learn something new and exciting. If you spend to much time on a project, or representation; veer off into a completely unknown territory to either get inspiration or learn something new.

If you need to dedicate time to other projects while you are at a road block on one project, then you should fulfill the time you may use on other projects. There is nothing wrong with being diverse.

Venture Into New Territory

The worst situation you may get yourself in is sticking with a particular set of skills, techniques, design, and ideas. Design or develop something you have never given thought to. It will not only spark interests in your original ideas, but may also give you some sort of inspiration to complete the project you are stuck at back in your own territory.

Apply new skills, take a breather, learn something new... Exercise your creativity.

Conclusion

I drove myself crazy trying to get the perfect layout, design, and code base... But I eventually had to come to terms with what I had made, and be proud of it, because my work is unique, and so is yours, unless you stole it.

I spend the majority of my time in front of a computer screen. Although I may have access to unlimited resources, inspirational works, and education with my computer; I try to go walk outside and appreciate how beautiful the world around me is.

I mean, come on, as terrible of a gradient a sunset outputs, it's still vividly beautiful and somehow just works.

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