Are Designers Too Obsessed with Perfecting the Details?

A formula for when (and when not) to fight for that design detail.

Sagrada 2.pngLa Sagrada Familia, known for its exquisite details, began construction in 1882!

Whether you’re an architect fixated with the way a series of fluted ivory columns reach up to meet a ceiling full of geometric openings that let in just enough light or you’re a UX designer in love with the way the subtle shadow of an element animates and transforms to become a different page, all designers are obsessed with details.

5 Dangerous Words – “Hey, Can You Help Me?”

Hey Can you Help.png

A Typical Day at the Office

  • 8:43am: Arrive at work.
  • 8:47am: Continue working on a prototype for a new feature.
  • 9:09am: I’m stuck. I ask a coworker for some quick feedback.
  • 9:51am: A tap on the shoulder. It’s a developer with a question on the feature he’s working on. I help him.
  • 10:06am: Present my designs to a group of team members. They make some great suggestions.
  • 10:45am: Stuck again. This time, it’s a question about Photoshop. I slack another designer. He answers.
  • 11:02am: An email from an account manager comes in with a new feature request. I respond.
  • 11:11am: My phone buzzes. It’s a slack from our lead tester. I head over to make sure everything’s pixel perfect.
  • 11:29am: Ready for a new design challenge, I meet with the product team. We discuss requirements.
  • 11:51am: I slack an account manager to set up an interview.
  • 12:07pm: Lunch.

If you’re keeping track at home, it’s only noon and I’ve already gotten help or given help to someone a total of 8 times. Joe Cocker’s “I get by with a little help from my friends” song might as well be playing in my headphones all day. And that’s how it should be at a collaborative organization.

Asking for help is something that happens every day. No matter what your role is, there’s always going to be something you need help with; and for people in the business of creating new things, this occurs a lot. We’re constantly searching for answers to questions that have never been asked and we tend to use tools that are ever-evolving and overly complicated (looking at you, Adobe).

On the surface, asking for help seems harmless. But lurking behind the scenes is a dangerous productivity killer. According to experiments conducted by David Meyer, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Michigan, “mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.” That’s 16 hours per person per week!