Embrace constraints (and reduce your choices).

March 6, 2011 at 10:24 am 1 comment

Freelance web designer John Cowen has some great advice for web designers in regards to establishing constraints on projects, but it really applies to designers across the board. His article “Embrace Constraints: How Limiting Yourself Won’t Limit Your Designs” published in onextrapixel (August 30, 2010) was refreshingly reaffirming as someone who relies heavily on the interplay of idealized goals with realistic limits (and has a hard time putting pragmatism to the side).

One of my favorite ideas from the article is: “there is a separation between creativity and design. Exactly what we’re calling these is semantics, but the above process is one to encourage free, unrestricted, thought with the goal of promoting innovation. This is the creative process. The design process requires you to take the creative work and pull it into a more cohesive shape.”

To hear more about embracing constraints (and limiting choices), take Cowen’s implied suggestion of watching Barry Schwartz’s 2005 TED Talk about The Paradox of Choice. Schwartz jokes that he wrote the book in order to figure out why he was so disappointed when he walked out of store with the best-fitting pair of jeans he’d ever owned; he concluded it was because the huge range of choices convinced him that there was an imagined alternative that would fit even better.

photo from Flickr user roncaglia shows how tons of jean choices are typical in current retail settings

March 6’s daily design idea is “too much choice is confusing, disabling and dissatisfying,” so do yourself a favor when designing and find the boundaries that exist on your project (whether or not the client has articulated them upfront or not).


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Poor little trees. More physical pixels.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. John Cowen  |  March 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Great to hear you liked the article and something you can relate to!


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