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When you chose to become a designer, you answered a special and sacred calling somewhere within. Some might get distracted by the fact that you play with bright colors, grey boxes, fonts, or even actual crayons. But deep down, we have all heard the same call: the desire to make the world a better place. We’ve felt like we could, if given the chance, make people’s lives easier, smoother, more wonderful, more enjoyable, more pain-free.

For years, I had an old AIGA poster by my desk that read, “NO ONE DOES THIS FOR THE MONEY.*”  The asterisk always made me laugh, because I do think I was well-paid.  And you can and should be well-paid as a designer. But as Macklemore would say, “If I’d’ve done it for the money I’d have been a fucking lawyer.”

No, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to make a difference. Aren’t we? Are you making a difference?  Are you making as much of a dent in the world as you were born to do? If not, what’s stopping you?

When you get in the trenches, it’s easy to lose track of that deep calling in each of us. Designers can sometimes “turtle,” as we say in gaming, hiding away in their shell when the temperature rises and focusing on the thing they do best: designing.  Sometimes when you step outside your circle, you get burned.  Sometimes it’s just damn annoying, infuriating even. People don’t speak your language.  They often don’t value what you value.  Inadvertently, they don’t value you.  Even though they should.

Sometimes it’s easier to stay in font and wireframe land, where everything is more black and white.

But guess what?  That’s not where the magic happens.  That’s not how good software gets shipped. That’s not how great products get into the hands of users. Staying in your safe place is not how you make a difference in the world.

There’s a ton of blogs out there to help you be a better designer technically. Honestly, I’m not worried about that. If your design never gets built even half like you hoped and planned, it really doesn’t matter how good it is. This blog is not about better usability or more kick-ass aesthetics. You’ll figure that out, if you haven’t mastered it thoroughly already. This blog is about every imperfect thing outside of our grid-paper clean world of design.

It’s about how to make great products that actually end up in the hands of users.

Don’t turtle.  Come on out, into the messiness of the real.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

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