The last few days at work have been…well…suffice it to say I’ve needed to vent a lot. One of my clients has requested revisions on a design I am particularly proud of. Worse, the requested revisions, in my opinion, make the overall product much less compelling than it was in my original. Now, normally I consider myself a fairly flexible person. I don’t mind making revisions as long as they improve the overall presentation. In fact, I really enjoy a synergistic collaborative process where the whole is significantly better than the ideas of its parts.
However, whenever I’m asked to introduce errors or “ugliness” into a document, I find myself in a foul mood. A really foul mood. An “if I were a cartoon I’d have a huge black rain cloud above my head” foul mood.
So fast forward to today, where in unrelated webdesign work, I came across this post by the brilliant designer Jeffrey Zeldman. In it, he discusses how—in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence—Thomas Jefferson had included passages that abolished slavery. However, in order to get the Declaration approved by congress, he had been forced to delete these passages. Zeldman then draws the following conclusion:
The next time a client requests changes that make your work less beautiful, less usable, or less smart, remember that greater people than you have lost bigger battles over far more important matters.
What did I tell you? The man’s brilliant. And the funny thing is that even as I was “put in my place,” I felt comforted to know that there are other designers who have perhaps experienced similar foul moods while accepting similarly frustrating, inane changes to documents that, overall, really won’t make any difference.
And the next time I’m in D.C., I’m getting a copy of the declaration and tacking it to the wall next to my monitor.