There is nothing like the moment when you suddenly come upon the answer to a design problem. Whether it is a particular interaction or the perfect design element, it is a moment of pure elation. However, in that moment, there is a always a risk of an emotional attachment being formed. Essentially, we have the potential to surrender our ability to see beyond the “perfect solution” we have just created.
Arthur Quiller-Couch, a British journalist, critic, and novelist once said,“Murder your darlings.” While this quote was aimed at aspiring writers, I believe that it is equally relevant to designers.
Essentially, the elements of your design that you really love cause you to have what I call “design blindness.” You loose the ability to be objective about your work. You loose the ability to critique honestly and without bias. This often means they may not be quite as “perfect” as you think they are.
So should we automatically abandon any design that we become personally attached to?
Yes. And no.
Yes, because of the lack of objectivity and the potential for that to erode your better judgement for the remainder of the project. Yes, because you will begin to design things that may have no place other than to support your “darling.” Yes, because there is almost always a better solution waiting for you once you get rid of your “darling.”
No, because the process of creating this “darling” of a design is extremely important to the over all process. No, because it might actually be really good. No, because we are humans and we are irrational and emotional and sometimes that is exactly what is needed to find the right solution. No, because maybe, just maybe, others will love it too.
Being able to break your emotional ties with the things you create is the sign of a mature designer. It is essential in any collaborative design process and can open the door to discover answers you wouldn’t or couldn’t have seen otherwise.
“Kill your darlings. After you back them up.“