Your designs are just fingerprints and shapes


Not too long ago we were designing this kickstarter-like feature we could use to help fund specific local journalism, and circumstances being what they were our team didn’t have the bandwidth to prototype a new thing without dropping something else. So, someone outside of that small silo did it. It was just a draft, screenshots puzzled-together in a word document, not intended to be pixel perfect but to start the conversation.

Still, part of me bristled. The layout wasn’t “right,” or whatever. I nitpicked.

We were, however, engaged in a democratization of design I’d been advocating, with this a conversation starter we could proof against user-testers before refining a solution that met a demonstrable need. I nitpicked, knowing this, I think because it wasn’t mine.

I’m a creature of pride and envy and I often find I have to actively combat wounds against my ego or the longing for greener pastures. It’s times like these, bristling because a prototype is too prototype-y, that I have to remind myself: this shit’s just shapes and fingerprints on a screen. Circles sweaty thumbs smush and a stock photo that screams its inauthenticity.

Pride is a master of deception: when you think you’re occupied in the weightiest business, that’s when he has you in his spell.

Marcus Aurelius would practice this sort of “gross reduction” to humble himself, an emperor, when he would catch himself lured by his own grandeur.

Like seeing roasted meet and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Or that this noble vintage is grape juice, and the purple robes are sheep wool dyed with shellfish blood. …

Perceptions like that—latching onto things and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That’s what we need to do all the time—all through our lives when things lay claim to our trust—to lay them bare and see how pointless they are, to strip away the legend that encrusts them.

Craft virtuously.

Liking (❤) this issue of Stoic Designer is a super way to brighten my day. It helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth a few minutes of your day.

Remember that design is not art, but a practice,

Michael Schofield