As designers, sometimes our biggest hurdle can be ourselves. I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself and occasionally I find it difficult to export a comp, close Photoshop and say, “I’m done.” What I’ve learned as I become a more seasoned designer is recognizing the difference between when I’m just pushing around pixels (Push Mode) and when I’m actually being productive (Design Mode). Unfortunately, knowing the difference doesn’t always keep me out of Push Mode so I’ve tried to modify my process a bit to keep it from happening.
Schedule breaks into your design time
Sometimes the best thing you can do is put some space between you and your design. If I’m struggling with a design I’ll make sure I put it down for a while and work on something else, or if time permits I’ll spend a few hours on it at the end of the day and then go home. When I pick it back up in the morning new solutions come to mind. It’s incredible what can happen after a quick walk to grab lunch or a good night sleep.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to share it with others
If you’re lucky to be part of a design team like I am, you can lean on those designers when you find yourself in Push Mode. Sometimes you don’t realize how deep you are in the forest because all you see is the tree in front of you. What you might not like because you’re burnt out and being overcritical of your own work might actually be a decent solution. There have been times I’ve haven’t been satisfied with this or that but my fellow designers have liked what I’ve done. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference.
If you aren’t part of a design team you can try dribbble, after all that’s what it was created for. If you don’t have a dribbble account send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to some of your work and maybe I’ll draft you.
Start Lo-Fi and push it from there
If you notice that you spend half a day on a design and all you have is a perfected navigation bar then maybe that isn’t the best use of your time. An approach that I’ve adopted is starting with a low fidelity comp that is basically a slightly polished wireframe. This keeps me from getting stuck in the weeds of selecting the perfect image or spending way too much time making sure the navigation looks amazing. When I have everything laid out the way I want and I know everything has the proper weight, then and only then do I start to add the high buff shine. This method gives you a strong foundation to build on top of and it keeps you from over designing something that might not need that much pizzaz.