Superman, You Are Not

July 29, 2013

I know it seems like every web designer you follow can design a beautiful UI, code in the latest and greatest of CSS3 & HTML and still have the energy to work on a side project until 4am (and then make a podcast about the experience the next day). The key words here are “seems like.” They can’t. They’re lying to you.

All this talk of ninjas and rock stars has turned us all into boasting fools, pretending we can do anything and everything. That we must be able to do everything. It’s not enough to really work at becoming a talented, multi-dimensional designer, you must learn to code too.

Working a 9-5 job to support your family? Lame. Freelancing is the way to go. Work with great clients and still have time to post to twitter and dribbble. No more working for the man. And surely there is a side project you could be doing from 7-midnight.

I’m not saying any one of these things are wrong by themselves. I just find it weird that we have this innate pressure to have to do everything at once (and be amazing at it). Or if you’re not turning that into some kind of project that you can show off, you’re not worth the time.

In this industry there is a huge calling to “just ship it.” Just get something out there. I couldn’t tell you how many projects I have seen announced or some progress on but never see the light of day. It’s likely because someone felt the pressure that they had to release something when in reality they didn’t have the time, the energy, the money, the experience, the skills, the whatever, to actually pull it off. And to those people, I need you to know that it is ok. You don’t have to be the greatest designer in the world. If that is your goal, I won’t discourage you but just know that there are some pretty big sacrifices in getting there as well.

I appreciated reading the honest words of Harry Roberts in his recent post “Make it count.” I don’t know Harry but I do know he is an incredibly smart, passionate young man who has made a name for himself in this industry, but I’m also sure he has made some sacrifices along the way and as he points out in his article, it hasn’t always come easy and it hasn’t always ended up perfect.

If you’re going to take on side projects and speaking and writing and open source and suchlike then please, make them … count. — Harry Roberts

You’re likely really really good at what you do and you’re passionate about getting better. But your company or your clients don’t need a superhero, they just need you. You’re already way better than whatever the alternative is.

Just because you’re not seemingly doing everything, doesn’t mean you’re a nobody.