Here is a hypothetical scenario which may or may not sound familiar to you: A project has progressed to the visual design stage. The process you followed fell somewhat short of textbook. Deadlines are imminent. The first iteration of a rendered design has gone to a client with various caveats:- that feedback is welcomed, that various aspects need to be reviewed, that the design can be progressed based on further discussion, etc. Then the word comes back:
“Looks fine. We’ll go with that”.
The question is: have you failed or succeeded?
As a professional you are almost certainly torn. You want to work towards the best possible result, ensuring the project is effective and represents something both you and the client can be proud for years to come. The craftsman in you wants to hone and improve. You had anticipated further debate, leading to the next iteration. Instead what you appear to have is approval. And the commercial imperative suggests that the time for iteration is past; the client has accepted your work and the process must move on.
The long wait
I suspect these are familiar dilemmas for design professionals. We hear much about the ‘perfect process’ in our industry writing and conferences. Professionalism calls for improvement; often arduous, incremental, glacial improvement that may only be measured in years rather than months. But it is a truism that perfection never arrives.
To remain commercially viable, relentless quests for perfection may have to be set aside for another day. Not, let’s be clear, abandoned completely: defeatism is the path to template-driven mundanity. Without question we should all aspire to better. However the harsh truth is – and you may want to brace yourself – compromise is a fact, in life and in business. Another element of professionalism is the maturity to accept that fact, while knowing that you are still a credible member of the design community despite falling short of perfection.
The lesson from a scenario such as this is almost certainly that we should not present anything to a client that we are not prepared to stand by 100%, or indeed go live with. It can be all too easy to sleepwalk your way to a design that doesn’t represent you or the client particularly well. #speakingfromexperience