Andrew Nater

Get Out of Your Own Way

If you spend most of your time focused on how your product looks, you'll miss out on the possibility that there should be nothing to look at. Or more likely, that the design isn't the most important problem. Sometimes the perfect solution to a problem doesn't need a pretty interface. Perhaps there's nothing for you to design at all.

Most websites you visit aren't rich, beautiful experiences. This was a hard truth for me to swallow. I wanted to fix it so I became a web designer. I thought this was such an obvious problem that I made it my business to solve it. I saw everything through a simple lens: pretty website = good website. Unfortunately, that isn't the case.

What matters more than what your site looks like is if people can find it. The web designers who make money are the ones who manage to get traffic (and conversions) for their clients. So they spend resources on SEO tactics and building mailing lists. They pick a Wordpress template and get to work on growing traffic because that's what their clients are buying.

My mistake was getting too caught up in how my work fit in the process. I cared more about my portfolio than my customers. In a way I succeeded. I did add good work to my portfolio. On the other hand, I never had customers knocking down my door to do business with me. I focused so much on how the end product looked, that I lost sight of the solution to my customer's problem.

If you're building a solution to make money, then relentlessly hone in on why that solution should exist. Figure out the problem you're solving and solve it. Chip away the unnecessary. Don't let your ego get in the way.