Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Designers Should not Work Alone

So let’s say you have what it takes to become the next big thing in the field of web design (Okay, fine… Maybe you actually do have what it takes to become “the” next big thing). You have just about everything you need to be an effective, even great, designer – you’re creative, artistic, you’ve got an eye for color and texture, plus you’ve got yourself great problem solving skills and technical abilities. With these skills, anyone can make it big in the web design industry, right?
Wrong. There’s one very important factor lacking in the equation – TEAMWORK!

Why Designers Should not Work Alone
Superman needed Batman and the Justice League to defend the world from a slew of villains. Michael Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and the Bulls all together conquered the NBA. Even Megamind needed Minion in becoming the world’s baddest bad guy. All these successful guys have their team to support each others’ backs in one way or another.
My point is: Nobody Works Alone!
It’s a reality that in the dynamic world of web designing, too many of us work alone. When we talk about the great people making it big in the industry, we think about highly creative people.
In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.”
~Rollo May
The very popular concept is that highly creative people work really well when they are alone. I know a lot of you guys know what I’m talking about. Freelancers work all by themselves. A person starting his own advertising agency works everything out all by himself. There are a bunch of guys out there able to run a complete website all by themselves.
Indeed, isolation fuels creativity. With solitude you can hear yourself think, you can meditate and reach the deepest part of yourself, and with solitude you can focus and concentrate more. The idea of working alone is very tempting: no distractions. Just quiet.

Too quiet…

Sometimes I am distracted by the silence”.
Who’s with me? I mean, sometimes it just gets too quiet. So quiet that you can’t think because you keep hearing your own thoughts and they start to get too noisy.
Going back to the subject, indeed there are a lot of good things about working alone. However, everything has its pros and cons, the same goes for the idea of “working alone”. As web designers, working on one’s own can also be counter-productive. Although it can fuel a creative designer’s mind, boost productivity and attracts fewer distractions, it also have some negative points. The benefits above can be outweighed by these negative points.
The following are harmful and might lead to choking and eventually death as web designers.

1. Social Isolation is Bad for your Health

This is perhaps the single biggest reason why designers should not work alone. Human beings (including web designers) are “social” animals. We are designed to mingle. We evolve and surpass challenges by sharing our experiences with mankind. We communicate for the sake of progress.
When we work alone, we isolate ourselves and it can really do damage, not only to our careers as designers, but also to our mental health.
When working alone, it is very easy to get used to isolation. There’s no boss, no working hours, you can work freely on your own based on your own rules, and in fact just the idea of taking care of everything yourself is really exhilarating. It is really possible to pull it off all on your own, but as time passes it can be very difficult on you.
Just like everything else in this world, there will come a time when you cannot handle everything on your own. By that time, you will become too comfortable with working alone that you’ll find yourself uncomfortable with other people and you won’t be able to work with them. Worst case scenario: Irritability, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, and inactivity. Plus you’ll no longer be able to enjoy what you usually find enjoyable. In other words, you’ll lose interest!
Thus, it is okay to work in solitude, but do not make a habit of isolating yourself. You see, solitude and isolation are two very different things.

2. Working Alone = Creativity

It’s true that creativity flourishes in solitude and creative people work at their best when they are alone, but only to some extent. You cannot be creative on your own forever. Creativity requires dynamics. At some point, everything you do would seem like a routine and that’s not creative.
As designers, it is our job to always make things a little bit better. Ideas must be dynamic and in motion. Say for example you have this crazy idea, you can always discuss it with the team and this crazy idea of yours might turn into an even more crazy idea, an exceptional one!
Therefore, as designers we have our team to share our ideas with and turn them into something amazing.

3. Too much Increase/Decrease in Confidence Level

Without a team to work and converse with, working alone can have either a horrible increase or a saddening decrease on a designer’s confidence level.
Since you are working alone, you are a lot less likely to have interaction with other people and you may find yourself battling depression from time t time. If you’ve become too comfortable working alone you may have a hard time imagining yourself attending big gatherings, or work with a team amd discuss your idea because you don’t have confidence to do so. For web designers and developers, there’s always room for support and that’s where the team comes in.
On the other hand, some people might have the opposite effect. Since they have been too comfortable working alone they feel really good about themselves and they are a bit on the arrogant side. Plus, there’s no team to question their ideas if they are wrong. For these web designers, there’s always room for a solid reality check. Just like a family, the team is always there to guide good web designers.
Let us remember that no one is perfect and that there’s always room for improvement. So, be sure to surround yourselves with a team of great people and make sure to be open for suggestions.

4. Working Alone means No Second Opinions!

That’s right, it will be like a room full of chairs but no one’s there to have their say. A room full of opportunities but no one’s there to grab it. It’ll be just you and your doubtful yes or no. When you are working alone, you are handling all the work. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a team to share the burden with? And wouldn’t it be nice to have a team to share all the glory with?
Even if you’re a really, really great designer, you’ll reach a certain point where you are confused too. When that time comes, wouldn’t it be nice to be surrounded with a team of great players and listen to their opinions?
Before we are designers, we are human beings. “Social” animals that are designed to work in teams, never designed to work alone.

The Bottomline:

  1. Social isolation is bad for your health.
  2. Working alone does not equate to creativity.
  3. Working alone can lead to too much increase or too much decrease in confidence level.
  4. Working alone means no second opinions
  5. Nobody works alone!


This is just me. It would be my pleasure to read your comments and please don’t hesitate to add anything as I fully realize that it is necessary for learning.
How about you guys? Do you prefer working alone? Or are you more productive when you’re communicating with the team?

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