- in Design
- July 30th, 2015
- by Aaron Dickey
Everyone wants their project done yesterday.
Sure we can hit tight deadlines and sometimes they are unavoidable, but that doesn’t make for great results or good ideas, especially when it comes to design. What designers need is time. This need really has very little to do with design at all. It’s all about how we perceive the world around us. More specifically, it’s how our brains process visual stimulus.
As we work, we process a range of choices about formal qualities, the nature of the content, and the audience the whole thing is intended for. All of this takes concentration to weigh whether the result of each choice enhances the work or reduces the overall impact. Over time our brains begin to fatigue and we can’t objectively process information. Basically we become accustomed to what we are seeing and it becomes difficult to identify problem areas and adjust the design to fix these problems. This is related to habituation and neural adaptation which is the way our senses change in responsiveness over time.
A good example of adaptation is how you immediately feel aspects of an object when you first touch it but after a few minutes your body stops feeling the object in the same way. This also happens when a designer works on a design for a long period of time, especially when they are working on the fine details of a piece rather than rough concepts where the differences between iterations are much greater and give the brain “new” material to process.
It is critical to the success of the a project that enough time is dedicated to the design process. This is because designers need time to process all of the information about the project and draw conclusions about how to communicate that information. Many times the initial conclusions we come to are obvious or superficial directions and not necessarily the best, most creative or most interesting ideas. Having more time allows the designer to make connections and explore directions that can better communicate the content past the “easy” surface connections made at the start of the design process.
While ensuring you’ve budgeted enough time helps mitigate the effects of fatigue and allows the the deeper cognitive exploration of connections to better communicate the content, having time also helps in a different way. We’ve all experienced how we get great ideas at different times of the day and designers are no different. Inspiration doesn’t fall conveniently between nine and five. It might be when you are in the shower or jogging, or just trying to fall asleep at night that you get your best ideas. A rush project that’s due at the end of the day doesn’t give a designer the opportunity to process and unconsciously form ideas in this way.
Every project is different and sometimes there really isn’t time available. While the effect of inadequate time or a compressed design schedule might not be as critical for work created using preexisting brand standards, this degradation can seriously affect logo design and more creative work. Taking a moment at the start of your project to ask a designer how much time he really needs might be the difference between a design that’s just ok and one that’s awesome.