The Fear of Being Right

The best designs often look wrong. They appear unexceptional. They don’t show off. They don’t push our technical skills to the limit. They leave out things we expect. They don’t reflect the latest trends.

“It just doesn’t look right.”

“It almost looks unfinished.”

“Nobody does this anymore.”

Great designs achieve their goals and nothing else. They’re not flashy for the sake of being flashy, and they don’t conform for the sake of conforming. Great designs know what they’re for. They have a sense of purpose, they serve it well, and they know what doesn’t belong.

Empathy is essential to design, but the desire to be liked can spoil a product. We might use an interaction pattern that doesn’t fit because it looks more impressive. We might include a gimmick that detracts from the message because it looks nice.

The important thing is how well your design works, not what people think of it. Do your best work, even if you don’t get any credit for it. You don’t have to worry about looking wrong. You can afford it.

Don’t be afraid to be right.