On Criticism

Jul 02, 2013

Change is a way of life for a designer. Sometimes it’s when a client comes to you with a project that is in desperate need of a change. Other times you’re the one fighting tooth and nail for every ounce of improvement you can bring to a project. But the rest of the time, we are just observing from the sidelines as some of our favorite brands evolve, sometimes bit by bit, and other times in enormous transformations.

We designers can’t help but have an opinion when we see change. Take a look at my own twitter history and you can see I’m not above complaining about some site’s lack of use of smart quotes and apostrophes.

The reason I’m writing this, however, is that I bristle when I see people reject a new design based on a single first impression. Tweeting “Fail.” or “Woah, put away the ugly stick.” the moment you see something you don’t like is not contributing a single thing to the conversation. Wait, strike that. It is contributing something: Negativity. That’s it.

I am completely fine with people being critical of the things they see on the web. As long as they know that they’re doing it from a position of safety and ignorance. You haven’t spent the hours/days/weeks/months that the designers spent working on that project. You don’t have the same stakeholders they have, and you certainly don’t have the timeline pressures that they dealt with getting this project shipped.

No, these designers and developers stuck their neck out for this project and they shipped it. Unless you, in your endless wisdom, are able to take a single glance at the new iPhone/Flickr/etc. and say, “Yes, I know, in ten seconds or less, better than all these people do, and I can say they all made terrible decisions. And now I really need to tell the world about how impressive I am in 140 characters or less.”, if you have that capacity go for it.

The rest of us, take a step back, have some humility, and go ahead and write a constructive blog post that points out some things you would do better. Go ahead, be critical, but for cryin’ out loud be nice about it.

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