If you have even an inkling of interest in designing your own project from scratch I would recommend moving fast and furiously towards making that project come to life.
I recently re-designed Enduring Learner using nothing but a skeleton theme supplied by CSS-Trick.com‘s Chris Coyier. His site should be bookmarked by any passionate Designer of things Web.
I reflected upon the process of my work and realized certain things along the way that apply to all projects, not just those involving web design.
Projects Are Fun as Hell. You Need Them.
It was actually the process of designing that inspired me to write about the importance of projects.
Too often projects are overlooked after graduation. While we are in school, we are involved with them at all times and tend to not realize their importance.
It is the project you choose to pursue that is the most fun though. Whether its designing your own site or designing your own house, taking part in the planning, organization, and work behind it connects you to your own life and gives you personality.
I would keep it a rule to always be involved in one project or another, even if its something as small as sketching a picture.
Every Project Has Its Muddy Area
I have noticed from being a part of many different activities that no matter how fun something is there is always that one thing you have to do that you will hate.
Why? Because great, durable, and timeless work pays attention to the details.
If you want to build a swingset for your kids you have to pay attention to the safety precautions that need to be addressed. If you are trying to get in shape you have to do the exercises that really make you wish you were firmly planted on a couch somewhere else.
Most of the time those details are not fun to pay attention to. They are not glamorous and often are not even noticed unless they are missing.
But even if every project has it, they still need to be paid attention to.
Along the same lines…
Tying Up Loose Ends is the Most Frustrating Part of Any Project
So you have all the big things finished. Now all that’s left is the clean up.
Here is the part of the project where you have to go through everything you have already done and make sure all the small things are taken care of.
This is so frustrating because it is so tempting just to hit the metaphorical “submit” button and send everything on its way. But if you do so without tying up those loose ends your swingset may fall apart mid-swing. Your new fence you built won’t withstand the next storm.
Having the will to finish those last few steps will ensure your project wasn’t done for nothing.
Breakthroughs Can Happen in the Strangest Ways
While I was designing the main menu for this site I wanted it to snap into a smaller menu when the screen size was below a certain number of pixels.
So I injected the necessary code for it to do so….Or so I thought.
No matter what I would do it wouldn’t do the right thing. I just couldn’t figure out why.
So I waited, thought about it, and left it alone for a week. The next Friday night, after having one too many Rum and Cokes, I found myself staring at the code once more. I changed a few things around, refreshed the page and Boom, my problem was fixed. Keeping in mind that I was stumbling around in my apartment at the time makes this story of redemption that much better.
The moral of this little story is not to rely on alcohol to solve your problems, it is that a breakthrough through a trouble area can happen in strange ways and you always have to be looking for the opportunity to do so.
Finishing A Project is THE Most Important Part
Everyone, it seems, is in the middle of finishing their novel. Everyone has those piles of things they still need to finish from 5 years ago on their desk. The truth is, everyone has some kind of unfinished project.
That’s just the nature of projects. Sometimes they can’t be finished.
But to make it a habit to not follow through is pass up on the greatest benefit of a project, growth.
The man at the top of the mountain can see much more than the man only halfway up. His knowledge of the world is vast compared to his failing compatriot.
To finish a project is to see how it reacts to real-world trauma which subsequently directs how you will conduct your future projects.
An unfinished chair sits in the garage. A finished one gets used and used and used. If it is great quality, it will last. If not, the creator will see his errors and make sure not to repeat them.
That is the main advantage of finishing projects: Unlocking your chance for future growth through guiding your direction.
These are the most interesting thoughts I had while designing my own website. It was fun, it was tough, and it was fulfilling.
It may not be the most expertly designed site on the web but it’s mine and has contributed to my personal growth.
So, once again, if you have some sort of project you have been waiting to do, I recommend you wait no longer to do so. There is so much growth waiting to be done.