di:ga are a great client – they do incredible work with amazing people. I have worked with Amy at di:ga for four years and her brilliance always pushes me to be brilliant.
Amy emailed me early in the year with a list of amends to di:ga’s website. They had grown in size and scope and the site hadn’t kept up. The list of amends was pretty long, so I suggested we consider a more thorough overhaul, rejuvenating the site visually. We agreed a budget that reflected the not inconsiderable amount of work while balancing the initial intent of simple amends. Plus, Amy liked the old site, so there was no need to reinvent the wheel.
I sent the first designs to Amy shortly afterwards and the response came back. Not right. It had lost a lot of character from the old site. Turns out I had reinvented the wheel, and it was square. No problem. More designs. Better. Let’s build some and see how it looks in the browser. Nope. Still not right. A dip in enthusiasm – a lack of a path forward. Wow. This was pretty unusual for me – to have two sets of designs come back as lemons. Amy was trying her best to offer suggestions, but Amy’s not a designer. I am, and I was doing a poor job.
Amy offered me an out at this point but I didn’t want to take it. I would persist. I read back through all the emails we’d exchanged, the original list of amends and my notes from our meetings. I started again in Illustrator to refashion the site. Moving things left, right, up, down. Pushing pixels. Pushing pixels? The very worst way to work. The kind of shit that makes me feel dejected. di:ga is one of my favourite clients and I’m flailing about uninspired.
Turns out what happened next clarified why and how I make work. I stopped. Stopped thinking. Stopped worrying.
I stopped fiddling with the most recent, tired iteration, pushed the list and meeting notes aside and started again from scratch. I decided to design the site for myself, as if I were the client. I designed something I knew I’d enjoy building and putting out into the world. Something fit for a portfolio that I’d refer people to over the coming months. I designed something that I loved.
It took no time at all. It had been there all this time, but just need a bit of bravery to release. I sent it to Amy with some excitement (and rationale) and waited for a response. I heard back: “I Love it” wrote Amy.
The site launched a few days ago. We had drinks to celebrate. I learned a heap of lessons, all of which I knew in theory but now understand in practice:
- Do what you love.
- Make work you love.
- Work with people who believe in you.
- Believe in yourself, and your gift.
- Be fearless with yourself, and with clients.