The Designer and the Seven Deadly Sins
To err is human. No one is free from committing sin. The best we can do is to do our utmost to control ourselves from committing the same sins over and over again. There is no shame is making mistakes, only shame in repeating those same mistakes knowingly.
We are all susceptible to temptation and today’s article will take a look at the 7 deadly sins that designers are most likely to commit.
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The temptation might be great, but we can all rise above the temptations and avoid committing these sins. Knowledge is power, we hope that this article will shed some light on the sins designers often succumb to and be able to wise up and put a stop to making the same mistakes again.
7 Deadly Sins – A Designer’s Frailty at Its Worst
Welcome to the world of human frailty at its worst – the 7 Deadly Sins.
Sin creates [an inclination] to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.
The sin is gluttony. The consequence is obesity. The solution is moderation. One should practice the saying ‘everything in moderation’. Even in the world of web design, gluttony is a sin that is a serious matter with rather enormous effects. Gluttony comes about when you consume or take something in excess. And sometimes, designers can go overboard by putting too much into a design or make their designs overly complex. We all want to create an inch perfect design. However, being excessive and over the top is not the way to perfection.
Image credit: David Sandell
Less may not necessarily mean more all the time, but more doesn’t immediately equate to a good design as well. Sometimes, we might want to include unnecessary features just because they’re cool or pretty or just so we can try something new. Putting too many good elements into a design can have the opposite effect of good.
Be clear about what is best for the user, the clients as well as for the design. Don’t waste your time piling everything onto your design plate only to have to throw them away after realizing they might not necessarily go well together or make any design or practical sense.
Gluttony kills more than the sword. - Proverb
Greed and gluttony go hand in hand but are really quite different sins. Greed is the excessive desire to obtain something, usually referring to money or power. However, because of greed and the excessive need to gorge oneself, one becomes a glutton.
Focusing on the greed, we refer to the sin as the greed for money and power. Many say that ‘money makes the world go round’ or that ‘money is the root of all evil’. These sayings come about because of greed. As designers, we are also susceptible to this sin. When dealing with clients, we ultimately want payment for our services, and naturally so. As mentioned in a previous article – Freelancer Custom Quoting: How to Quote per Project by Secretly Charging per Hour, we usually pad our quotes before quoting our clients. The danger of being greedy is if we over pad because we want to earn more money from our projects.
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If you don’t over pad and charge your clients exorbitant fees for your services, that is very professional of you. However, greed can also be in the form of you taking on more projects than you can actually handle. If you overwork yourself, you are not only harming your own health, but your many projects will all suffer as well. It is common to take on multiple projects at the same time. It is not wrong. However, be sure not to bite off more than you can chew.
Each project requires a certain amount of time, energy, effort, and research to complete. If you shortchange any of these projects so that you can take on more projects to earn more in the same period of time, that greed has gotten the better of you.
Steer clear of greed, it will harm your working relationships, affect the quality of your work and also ruin the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.
It is greed to do all the talking but not to want to listen at all. - Democritus
Everyone has a lazy bone in them. Procrastination is a common problem that often arises. Humans are great at making excuses so that they can avoid responsibility and action. The lack of time, creative blocks, and little sources of inspiration are most often cited as excuses. The project is prolonged and delayed. Then everyone will start playing the blame game and pointing fingers at everyone else but themselves. Yes, inspiration can be a slippery fish, but if we work only according to when creativity hits us, then working in the industry is a career path we should really reconsider.
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Designers always have deadlines to meet. Deadlines and laziness do not go well together. Work out a balance in your own schedule and play hard as much as you work hard. If you find a good working rhythm, don’t break the momentum. Set reasonable work schedules and goals per working timeslot and stick to them, this will help you keep track of your work and counter the lazy bone.
Diligence overcomes difficulties, sloth makes them. - Benjamin Franklin
Each designer’s success is dependent on their own talents and capabilities. It is pointless to be envious of other people’s success or their designs. It is of course normal to look up to, admire, and be inspired by other designers. However, don’t let the jealousy monster get to you. Being bitter about another person’s success will do you no good. There is no reason for your envy and resentment of their successes. They have worked hard to get to where they are.
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If you spend the time wasted on envying them into learning more skills to better yourself, you won’t be envying them anymore, but perhaps become the envy of others. Use this yearning to be like them and fuel your own desires to become a better designer. Don’t just be envious, do something about it. Beware of envy, it often leads to lust.
Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own. - Harold Coffin
Lusting after another designer’s designs is not a good trait one should have. Being lovers of creative and beautiful things, we know how to appreciate a good design. And while we drool over something another designer’s come up with, we are tempted to learn from them. Learning from someone better or more creative than us is a good thing. However, be careful not to end up coveting the original so much that your own creation becomes too similar to it.
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We should let it inspire us but not copy from it. To copy is to pirate, to pirate is to steal. We should contribute to the world of design, and producing too close a replica of the original is not contributing much or anything new to the industry at all. Keep your lust in check; be inspired to be creative and innovate, not steal.
Ambition is a lust that is never quenched, but grows more inflamed and madder by enjoyment. - Thomas Otway
If you do not have pride in your work, you will not find success or achieve much. So why is pride in the list of sins? Pride in one’s work is necessary; however, being overly proud, becoming arrogant and obnoxious is not. When you have pride and confidence in your work, you can achieve and do great things. It is these character traits that will help push you forward to becoming better at what you do. However, always remember that pride comes before a fall. If you are too proud to accept other people’s opinions and feedback, you run the risk of not just alienating yourself from others, but also succumb to the sin of pride.
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We are not always right, and we must recognize that fact if we are to continue learning and improving. Do not be too proud to learn what you can from others even if you’re at the top of your game. If you encounter any problems, don’t let pride get in the way of you asking for help. Insisting on resolving a problem you obviously cannot fix will only make matters worse. Arrogance is a no-win situation.
Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. - Thomas Merton
Violence never ever solved anything. Design work is tedious and time consuming. After staring at books, the computer and sitting for hours on end trying to achieve perfection in our creative designs, anyone would be cranky and short tempered. However, if we turn that anger and frustration on others, we have surrendered to the sin of wrath.
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Wrath isn’t just about being excessively angry, but also being vindictive and forceful because of that anger and frustration. Don’t let your everyday frustrations build up to become a fury that cannot be stopped. Nip it in the bud. If you encounter an issue you disagree with, communicate amicably about it instead of giving in to your anger and lashing out at the client. Giving in to your wrath is a surefire way of getting a bad reputation as an unprofessional designer.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. - Bible
The Confession Box
Ultimately all these sins surface if you are excessive, lose control of yourself or if you’re over the top. The sins are mostly about excess;
- excessive love of oneself – Pride,
- excessive wants – Greed,
- excessive consumption – Gluttony,
- excessive anger – Wrath,
- excessive desire – Lust and Envy,
- excessive inactivity – Sloth.
Be careful not to fall into the deep end of the pool and sink into excess. Too much of anything is not healthy. Keep yourself in check, walk away from temptation.
Have you fallen into temptation and committed any of these 7 sins before? If you’d care to share, we’d love to hear your confessions. Of course a confession is not necessary, but share with us if you have any methods of preventing one from committing any of these sins. Are there other negative traits and sins designers are guilty of doing?