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Designer Ego

Do you ever come to the point when you are designing and the design is just not working so you begin to wonder why you are even a designer or could even claim to be one? This happens to me more times than I would like to admit. But then I just surf the web and see somebody else’s ugly site and am instantly reinspired to push forward .

I can see the reason for many people entering web design is because they believe that designing a website is easy. Wrong. Building a website is easy, designing one takes skill. This is where the ego kicks in. There are two key elements (I am sure there are many more) that designers should possess in my opinion.

The first one is that you need to be your own harshest critic. And believe me this is extremely hard to do on the web since there are many people out there who are quick to point out how wrong your design is. When you think you are done with a design, take a step back and look at it. Could you do better? If you think you could, but can’t figure out how then just step away for a bit. If you don’t think you could do better then either you are right, or you just don’t want to push yourself further.

Hopefully you don’t think your design is done because it looks like another popular site. You cannot call yourself a designer when all you do is steal other people’s designs. Sort of like thinking you can draw and placing a paper over a picture so you can trace the lines. Don’t get me wrong because it is okay to take the design elements of others to help with your own designs, but your ego cannot develop until you have your own style. Sure your style may be similar to someone else’s, but at least when you design something you know that you designed it.

The second important aspect of being a designer is knowing how to take criticism. I am fortunate to have an audience that gives excellent criticism without being too harsh or demeaning. Sure many times I do not agree with what people say, but I have learned to listen to them because maybe in another design their ideas could work. Every once in a while you may get some jackass telling you how horrible everything looks. Why is he saying this? Who knows and who cares. When taking criticism there is always going to be signal and noise. Filter out the noise. Listen to others. Grow as a designer.

Even when your ego is too big to fit on the screen and you think you are the best around or people tell you there is no one better, there is always a way to learn and get better. Every website on the web has something to teach you. Be it something good or something bad, but from every design it is possible to take some knowledge away with you. If you want to be a designer then be one. You must have an ego or else you wouldn’t be doing it (unless you just do it for fun). Just make sure to keep it in check.

3 Responses to “Designer Ego”

  1. deus62 Says:

    The real problem for lots of web designers (I don’t know if that is the right term because many make their money elsewhere) I know seems to be that they are too self-critical. Happens to me all the time as well. You work on something forever and are reluctant to let the bird fly. Because I do designing more for fun than anything else, I’m also prone to changeritis, never actually being satisfied with anything I do. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but there seem to be more people out there who change everything too often than people who actually leave things in place for a longer period of time to let the design “settle”, so to speak. I know one should strive for improvement, but this can also be detrimental to the work at hand.

  2. Greg Says:


    You said it: “I’m also prone to changeritis, never actually being satisfied with anything I do”.

    I have that disease as well and it’s been really tough trying to get rid of it. I’m constantly wondering if something that I’ve done could be better (I always come to the conclusion that yes, it can be) and I try to make it better even after I hear good things from other people. Why do I change it? Because I am too self-critical. I mean, I have an ego in that I think that I’m not “bad” at designing for the web but at the same time I think “I’m not great” or “that could be much better”.

    As a designer and developer I have been trying to grow less self-conscious of my work and to be more accepting of it. I’d like to able to look at it objectively but it’s really quite difficult. I’m also trying to understand when to call a design finished but in order to do so I have to be able to answer a couple of questions: Why do I have changeritis? Are there web designers that don’t? If not, why? and What exactly is the cure? Is there one?

  3. deus62 Says:


    There must be web designers that don’t. I would think that those whose well-being depends on it because they have to earn a living have to call it a day at some point (or are forced to). Those of us who have a different day job maybe started designing in the first place because they had some passion for design, came at it from a publishing angle because the web offered a cheap way of getting ones stuff out there, or they simply didn’t feel like playing computer games 24/7, rather “wasting” their time on pretty multi-layered photoshop files.

    Lately I have been thinking about this a lot and have added one more problem that many people with websites/weblogs seem to have: the design of their product has taken over and either there wasn’t any content in the first place to really present or not much thought went into actually presenting the content, hence the often rapid and mostly constant changes. Content is added, some is removed, things are restructured, etc.

    I know many out there do think about usability first and foremost and therefore again and again adapt their design, but it is pretty obvious that some people also just love designing shiny interfaces and then wonder what they should put in there. I know I’ve often been guilty of that one.

    Add to that the fact that designing has taken first place with many sites, actually developing content has to take a backseat. I’m sometimes amazed when new sites appear with drumroll and fanfares, only to then remain virtually empty content-wise. The web is littered with those.

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