The Ultimate Secret to Great Design


Start. That’s it. Just sit down (or stand, whatever floats your boat) and start. Expect it to be bad – really bad. In fact, expect to burn the first draft so there is no evidence that you ever created something so terrible. But, seriously, just start.

Below is the first page of the internet that has ever existed. Boring, eh? Stark, unglamorous, and just bleh. But it was a starting point to the internet as we know it today. So how do we combat “Start Paralyzation”?

Too many people get so wound up in trying to create the PERFECT design that they paralyze themselves before pen touches paper. Next time you have a design panic attack, try:

  • The rule of 5: Set out to sketch out 5 different designs. It’s less pressure when you know you’ll have multiple ones to choose from. You also may find that by the second design, you have more ideas in your head than your pencil can scratch out in time.
  • Changing the medium: Sketching isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to just sit at the computer and have a go at it. Try taking a note from preschoolers and drag out some construction paper and scissors, markers, paint, etc. Sometimes the pencil can be a limitation to your creativity. Plus, messy drafts release the pressure of making a perfect draft.
  • Steal but don’t copy: Google some examples of what you are trying to design, pick 3 examples, and steal ONE thing you like from each. Note those 3 things (mixed typography, vintage feel, and color scheme for example) and create based on those 3 criteria. Don’t steal more than one aspect from each example or you will risk copying another designer and shunned for all eternity.
  • Round Robin with a friend: Remember the story-telling game you played as a kid where you say a line, then they say a line, then you say a line, etc? Same concept. You sketch out part of it, your friend sketches, you color, they color, etc. Warning: be careful who you choose to do this with – I don’t recommend your boss or significant other.

Any other ideas for combatting “Start Paralyzation?” – contact me!


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