Alex CowleyHome

Sometimes, I just can’t finish my personal projects. Many people who know me will already know this – sometimes it drives them (and me!) mad, the fact that I can sometimes endlessly tweak something.
I’m pretty sure that other designers out there will immediately relate to this situation as well.

I never really have this problem with client work: we set out with a brief, we hit the targets and complete the brief, polish it up, deliver it and job’s a good ‘un. It gets a little more tricky with personal projects, however, because sometimes there isn’t a finite finish point.

Tweak, tweak, tweak…

Take this site for example. I spent quite a bit of time designing and building it. I knew that, in the future, I’d want to add more portfolio pieces, more journal articles, and more homepage features. I also imagined that the site would evolve and grow over time as I worked on other projects and came back having learned new things.

Once I made the site live, I sat back and thought, great, I’ve done it. It’s live. I closed down the Mac, smiled a happy smile and went about my life. But after a couple of weeks I started looking at the site and thinking how parts of it could look/work better, and so I spent a few late nights tweaking and changing parts to my satisfaction.


Now, this is all well and good. No project just goes live and then stays the same way forever – everything needs to evolve, adapt and change over time. But I soon realized that maybe, just maybe, I was changing things just for the sake of changing things.

Evolution or procrastination?

Again, let me just say that I’m in no way saying that personal projects should never be tweaked. If there’s a problem with my site, my logo or anything else, I should change it.

But I feel that as a designer working on my own projects, sometimes I can let myself focus on the things that, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t important. Is it really necessary that all of the buttons across my website have exactly the same padding values? Does my site really need better buttons?

It’s a fine line, I think, between design-procrastination and actually evolving a project, and having reflected on my own practice, I now realize that endlessly tweaking my own projects can sap time that can be used to much greater effect elsewhere.

Wait… I just used something I learned in university?

Hurrah for reflective analysis! Maybe writing academic essays for five years did actually give me some life skills. Who’d have thought?