People Matter

September 06, 2012

If you follow me on twitter you might have seen several tweets from me a few weeks back about a family member who I was really concerned about. It was one of those reality check moments that make you realize there’s a lot more to life than just work and hobbies. It turns out they were alright but it was enough to get me thinking and helped to put things into perspective.

Now with that said, I’m still a designer and I still have a job to do. So that is very much where my mind is still at, but it brings clarity to why I’m doing all of this. I do it to make a living, of course, but I could be doing any of a million different things for a living. I design because I love it but also because design is about people. That’s who we’re designing for. And it’s nice to remember every once in a while that people matter.

When you’re on twitter, you’re not just reading and replying to tweets from designers, you’re reading and replying to tweets from other humans. They matter. And you matter to them. I think we, and I certainly include myself in this, get caught up in trying to make a name for ourselves and gain followers and being “awesome” that we lose sight of why we do what we do. I want to make useful things for others and make others happy. To make the world better for someone else is about as “awesome” as you can get.

Very recently I stumbled upon a tribute video for Jeffrey Zeldman. If you’re any kind of web designer you’ve at least heard of Jeffrey. He’s accomplished so much in our industry and in many ways has been crucial in building the industry we know today (and still working at it). This video was for Jeffrey’s induction into the SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame earlier this year and includes many short tributes and memories from Jeffrey’s colleagues and friends.

The one that really stuck out to me was the tribute by Leslie Jensen-Inman. She says,

“I met Jeffrey Zeldman in 2005 at SXSW in a coffee shop. And we could have talked about Designing with Web Standards, or A List Apart, or any of the wonderful things Jeffrey does as Jeffrey Zeldman. But we didn’t. We talked about family, and we talked about things that matter to us as people.”

And later she concludes,

“…and that’s what really strikes me the most about Jeffrey Zeldman, that he’s not just @zeldman, he’s Jeffrey.”

Now I’ve never met Jeffrey, but you can tell he gets it. In fact, he recently gave an interview with The Great Discontent where he said this about himself,

“If I have a gift, really, out of everything I do, it’s recognizing when other people have profound hidden talent, figuring out who should work with who, and introducing people to each other.”

Remember that people matter, please.