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How Does One Keep from Falling for an Initial Design Idea?

Marcin Treder
By Marcin Treder on 1st October, 2013 Updated on 22nd April, 2020

Design is an unfortunate mixture of art and science that simply hates any shortcuts. Designers, on the other hand, are often more than willing to take shortcuts. Who’s not guilty of falling in love with the first design idea? I know I am. You start thinking about the design and immediately afterwards you’re able to see the solution that seems to be perfect – at least in your mind. You’re not forcing yourself to come up with anything else and you simply start wireframing your first real guess.

This very moment of questionable epiphany can ruin the entire product.

Design is a conversation in which different points must be presented and argued for or against. It’s too simple to just agree with yourself on the first premise and rush to the end of the project. Falling in love with the first idea is depleting you of mental and creative resources that could lead to something absolutely amazing. By falling for the first idea that comes to your mind, you’re getting stuck in your local maximum – you’ll never know how much you could achieve by releasing your creative powers and going further.

Local Maximum

And yes – the design process is wasteful. On every step of the design process should you leave more ideas than you’re taking with you. The rule of thumb is simple: the design process should undergo clarification – the further down the road you are the less waste you’re supposed to produce. You should brainstorm dozen of ideas, sketch several of them, wireframe a couple of them, prototype the best three, only take two of them to visual design, etc.

Split-testing obviously puts this logic into question but my point is simple: if you have the money, time, market situation and resources to test several fully made designs – do it. If not – there should always be a testable design with several variations (the difference of details, copy, etc. – something that can significantly change user’s behavior and business results).

Having that said – let’s think about how to prevent yourself from “marrying” the first design idea that comes to your mind.

  1. Always engage several people in your design process (developers, managers, friends…) and try to work with them right from the beginning.
  2. Brainstorm multiple solutions and use very rough sketches to express them.
  3. Always start with sketching and low fidelity wireframes.
  4. Test your design ideas with users before moving toward final design and implementation.
  5. Don’t consider yourself omnipotent :)

Good Luck!

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