Obsess over details

I don’t know a good visual designer who doesn’t obsess over details. Visual design is good when a lot of small details work together.

Some details are subtle. People do not notice them. But they feel them. Or they feel the lack. Show someone two similar designs side by side. They’ll often be able to tell you which is better. They might not know why. It’s usually in the details.

Some details are easier to notice. People get excited when they notice small details. They bring their face as close as they can. They make positive noises. They’re impressed. You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever seen a Fabergé egg. Did you look at it from far away? Or did you get as close as you could?

Attention to detail helps in both ways. When it’s subtle the design “feels” right. When it’s noticeable people are impressed.

You may have heard that good visual design is “pixel perfect”. It means that every pixel is in the right place. It requires attention to every detail.

Here’s a simple test you can use. Imagine I point at a random element in your design. Are you confident you can explain the reason behind its position in the layout? Its size? Shape? Distance from other elements? Alignment? Colour? Meaning? Importance relative to other elements? Typeface? Text size? Line height?

You should consider all of these and more.

The Pareto principle says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. It’s true for visual design. A good visual designer spends 20% of the total time on broad strokes. These broad strokes get them 80% of the way to good design. The last 20% takes the other 80% of the total time. They sink that time into all of the small details.

You shouldn’t worry if you don’t notice these details now. You will as you improve. Then you will not be able to ignore them. They will be like an itch in your brain.

Every detail is important because the end result is the sum of all the details involved in the creative process

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