Sometimes I feel like a lame designer. Tasked with a project of “freshening” an existing site has at times been tough and I’m not sure why. Am I losing my eye for design? Maybe the existing site (from a recent project) was so bad that a freshening is not possible. But then does that make me a bad designer?

Shouldn’t I be able to clean up any design and make it at least a little better? (emphasis on “little” as that’s about the time-frame I’m usually given to perform pixel-surgery on three- to sometimes four-year-old sites)

Feeling lost in my profession, kind of washed up, and contemplating digging out my knee pads and diving back into crates of floor tile, buckets of thin-set and huge orangey sponges. I forget what it’s like to walk away from work at the end of the day feeling like my involvement made a difference and that difference by virtue being improvement.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been so into the code side of life lately… code either works or it doesn’t. I like that kind of simplicity once in a while. Design can be so, oh I don’t know… fluffy? Or maybe gooey? Code–like floor tile–gives you a little time to set it up, then it becomes rigid and solid and functional. Lately design has left me feeling empty and dirty. Dirty like I just did something I told myself I’d never do. Like purposefully centering a block of text, or using pure blue (#0000FF) for a page background color. (yuck)

I think I need to spend some time designing without having to track every god-forsaken 5-minute notch on the clock. If I’ve learned nothing else from my latest adventures in life and the pursuit of workiness, I’ve learned that a clock is the most ruthless of the design killers–budgets can be fudged; roadblocks can be lobbied against; ignorance or stupidity can be unlearned; but the clock… the clock cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be bargained with. It cannot be persuaded or distracted. It is the metric system of a future destined to produce mediocre realities. Creativity is its pimple, its tolerable stench. It is the harvester of all things billable… or is it?

Where are the days of getting lost in a design work of art, skipping two meals in a row ’cause it only felt like 15 minutes had passed?

Where are the clients who appreciate the form as much as or perhaps more than just the money function side of all this elusive and ever-shifting grandiose collection of the internets? Where are the clients who understand that design is more important than function… that design dictates the function (or perceived function)… that design is function? If a visitor understands so clearly what the purpose of the website is, they are destined to interact with the intentioned function arriving at the optimal result rather than alienate the function into their own mis-guided, or incorrect perceptions.

The joy I used to feel in my work is dissipating and the indifference that’s spawning is evolving into bitterness faster than I can counter it and it scares the crap out of me.

Life is too short to be consumed by this wretched entity that is time, watching, staring at, fearful of every minute that goes by, one by one by one.

I’m worth more than just occupying a virtual chat room, minding my disjointed and vain set of tasks for my acceptable yet slightly “not enough” 8 hours per day. I do not want to be called a “good designer” because I can pump out slop and come in under budget (read: more profit). I want to be called a “good designer” because I’ve provided an elegant solution to an interaction problem or stress-point; or because I’ve played a part in gracefully disseminating important information in a great and effective manner. I want my value to be in what I’ve created, not in how much or how little time it took.

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