Designing for Yourself

As you might have noticed, on one of the many different channels of communication, the past few days, or weeks even, I have been working on a new version of my tiny personal website. And last monday, I clicked a tiny button so it would come to existence in the big bad world.

If you have been following me – or my work – for a while now, you probably have noticed this happens more often. Some might even say it’s some kind of illness or addiction. They may not be off by far, but I’m not a doctor.

So why the many re-designs, re-aligns, re-iterations, re-whaddayamaycallit?

Part of it is scratching an itch. Part of it is experimentation. Part of it is practice. Part of it is the small size of the site and the flexibility. Part of it is the freedom to change it at any time. And for the latest version, the main part was the need for an evolution past the utter simplicity of the version at that point. An evolution towards a design that, offered ways of communication, as well as be flexible enough to be extended in the future.

But what’s most interesting to me is the challenge, if you can call it that. It’s a ridiculous, near-impossible effort to design something for myself that I’ll be content with for a long period of time. The reasoning behind this, I believe, is because there is an inherent cross-over between the creator and client. You are the one creating it, you know what you want, yet you also have a frame of reference that expands far beyond the current scope of the project. We have so many ‘tools for the job’ that deciding on the right ones is on par with or even beyond the paradox of choice created in large supermarkets these days.

And because of this hybrid state of mind, the cross-overs your brain makes between the client and creator state are unhelpful at least. So while it is a challenge, it is also pretty close to slapping yourself in the face with a table-tennis paddle. Repeatedly. Hours on end. Yes. Like that.

Now, for anyone reading this, it has probably been a pretty useless post. And I’m reluctant in saying that’s going to change. But here is what I have noticed to be helpful.

  1. Give it time. Let it simmer. You probably don’t have a hard deadline. Sure, it’s not efficient and – by regular standards – productive to stretch the timespan of a project, but some things just don’t come out when you want them.
  2. You have little to lose. I’m not talking starting up a business here. Designing these things will probably not make you money, unless you’re an amazing edge-case. And there is little need for monstrous investments, so you have little to lose.
  3. Experiment. Play around with SASS, have a go at FitText, throw in some Isotope, poke a canvas element, or totally take it out there — like Benjamin did.
  4. There’s always re-iteration. This ties in with the previous point. is the “gateway-drug” bullet-point. I wouldn’t suggest getting into my mindset, but in software (with this i mean the web, mobile, desktop) we get this amazing chance to update and iterate. And we should grab it by the cojones and use it at full effect. If something just doesn’t work, revert or reiterate.

Designing for yourself is amazing, and it is a royal pain in the behind. I would definitely recommend it to every designer out there. And now I’ll have to go and look where I left my social life.