The Whirlpool of Perfection

Ever since I entered college, I have liked the idea of working on side projects. Even after graduation, I have maintained my habit of working on a project in my leisure time be it designing, coding or something else. Working on side projects provides you room for experiments which I believe is essential to keep the creative juices flowing. The fun part is that when you are experimenting you do not have to put constraints on your process or the timeline. Yes, I understand that constraints are inevitable in the real world but once in a while, you can let them go.

Back in the year 2012-2014 when I was studying Computer Science and Engineering in college I would just develop apps without thinking much about the process that I was following. So if I had any idea, I would just fire up Visual Studio on my PC and start developing. I always started with UI even after not having any design process. This approach worked at that time because the app used to be light, small and mostly static. It does not matter if this process was accurate or not as it drastically improved my skills. I was learning so much without knowing about it. Anyway, when I started one such project - View for Behance, I tried to use the same approach. That project made me realise the cons of that approach. I wasted a lot of time developing the UI just to dump it later. Consequently, I tried to experiment with the approach. I would start with sketches and then continue with Photoshop. I relied much on photoshop than sketching. It was way better and time-saving as I was able to validate my ideas quickly. This approach helped a lot and became a part of my process from that moment.

In 2015-2016, I got busy with the design internships and my first job. I would barely get free time. Once in a while, I would pull myself in a side-project only to find myself struggling. I was still following the sketching - Photoshop/Sketch duo. The reason for the struggle was not so obvious - the quest for perfection. Sketches, wireframes and mockups help to quickly validate your ideas but I would get stuck in either of these stages. Sometimes I would not let go of an idea, the other time I would waste a lot of time perfecting some pixels even when the other basic stuff has not been sorted out.

Imagine you have an idea to work on. You start working on it. Gradually laying out the strategy of how the tasks will be done. You keep on working on the idea. You want everything to be perfect. As Perfect as Utopia. It is not difficult to focus on the wrong things. Instead of making the goal-oriented flow better, you might be pushing yourself too hard for a perfect gradient. You feel doubtful. You think that you are not making any progress. This thing is like a whirlpool which appears without a warning. The perfection whirlpool lures you towards itself until your enthusiasm fades away. After the loss of enthusiasm, there is hardly any motivation left. We keep trying to achieve perfection - constantly working on it until our focus and inspiration are drown in this whirlpool. We reach that stage of apathy and fatigue where we start doubting ourselves and become victims of imposter syndrome.

Last year I bought an XBOX One and wanted to keep track of my games and achievements using the official XBOX app on iPhone. I found the app too confusing to use and did a conceptual redesign from ground up to tackle the foundational flaws. I kicked off this project in October 2016. I worked on this project continuously for a month. After sorting out the information architecture and navigation flow early on, I started with the sketches. A couple of days later I fired up Sketch and started visual design. Everything was going well for about a month. Next, instead of focusing on creating the end to end flows first, I got captivated with micro-interactions on the home screen. You could have guessed what happened next. I was not seeing any progress apparently as I was too much busy in making those interactions perfect; focusing on the time-taken by an element, position of the element and other motion stuff. It was only a matter of time when I stopped working on the project. It was only a few weeks ago when I picked the project again and finished it. This time I did not let my friend - perfection hang around with me. Building the end-to-end flow was a priority. Whilst the interactions were also taken care of which I know are far from perfect.

In quest of the perfection, we often end up focusing on the less important things. Trying too hard to make the pixel perfect screen? Is the Information Architecture sorted? Does your solution help people in achieving the goal efficiently? How about focusing on making it efficient first and worrying about the visual design later?

So don’t let your enthusiasm drawn towards the perfection whirlpool. Perfection can wait. Focus on the essential things first.


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