Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

Posted • Reading Time: 3 minutes

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

It’s getting dark. You’re up a mountain. You need to find shelter for the night but you don’t really know where you are. You’re lost because you didn’t plan the the route terribly well before you started and you left your map at the Starbucks at the bottom. What do you do? Well, it might be best to retrace your steps back to where you knew the direction you were going.

When approaching a new web project, it’s vital to have a plan for every step. You need to be sure footed with every decision you make. I can hopefully speak on behalf of every web designer out there when I say that you all have a process you adhere to when working on projects. This process is your map, it comes with you through all of the different stages of your design process.

Personally, I’ve found I’ve had to look at it a few times as I’ve lost the way before. I was confident that I had explored all avenues of data analytics and research. I was sure I understood the brand and of course knew the constraints involved in the project. With this confidence and gusto I trucked on into the designs. Suddenly, I come to a halt. I’m stuck. I thought everything was going well and my head was flowing with design ideas. Nope. Total blank.

Most people reading will think, “It’s just a creative block, take a walk and it’ll be fine.”. I disagree. There is perhaps a deeper reason as to why you have just stopped dead in your tracks. If you have got to a stage where you can go no further, something has gone wrong. Perhaps you maybe didn’t do enough research or didn’t really understand the brief. Either way, whatever the reason is, the important thing to remember is that you have your ‘map’. Use it and retrace your steps back to where you know the direction you were going. Take your time doing so. It’s better to take the time early on in a project to avoid long periods of ambivalence later on.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Take the front cover of a brochure of a new piece of software for example. You have the idea in your head, the layout, the colours, the graphics. When it comes to writing the copy for it, your hands hover over the keyboard in anticipation of the words appearing and…nothing. “Why can’t I think of what to write?” The answer is because you didn’t fully understand who the brochure was aimed at so you’re not sure of what text to add to the brochure and also how much text should be there which in turn affects the whole layout and composition of the piece you’re designing.

The lesson to take away here is if you feel something isn’t working, go back a few steps, take a bit longer on previous tasks and don’t move on until you are certain of the direction your going.

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