The Elegance of Imperfection

by David Sherwin

45 Reader Comments

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  1. I creat a few website and have to say Imperfection is OK as far as the website is interesting for the visitors

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  2. I agree that imperfections make a person think, however, as an editor, I like to direct what a person thinks about. For instance, when I see imperfections on grammar and spelling, I think about the imperfection, and not more interest in the site or product.

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  3. I agree, too much sameness lends a site to boredom for a user, especially a user seeking a social experience.

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  4. I know that this is not really saying that you can put anything anywhere and that when you break it down there is an exact art to it but anything that frees me from symmetry is like skinny dipping in the lake on the 18th hole of the US open!

    Robin

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  5. Really like the anecdote, this article is inspiring.

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  6. Hi David,

    Thanks so much for this. It took me awhile to get it up, but I had to pass this on in a post: http://www.webmarketingtherapy.com/blog/perfection/ This made me think of many ways that the fear of imperfection can hold us back. You were much more eloquent.

    :-)

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  7. From the perspective of a fairly equally-brained front end dev who couldn’t draw or come up with a memorable logo to save his life but still feels the creative rhythm, it’s always struck me how much more natural and fluid the process of converting a design from a good artist tends to go as opposed to overly busy, needlessly tight layouts from those of a more engineering background.

    It generally takes a lot fewer elements to get the job done, I always feel better about the site I’m working on and the resulting layout always feels more intuitive and easier to use. Of course, I’m in Chicago and there’s a lot of REALLY good designers in town but I don’t think it’s just that.

    When you try too hard to quantify things with prototyping and demos and put all this effort and resource into what ultimately has no other purpose than making management feel artificially connected to a process they will never understand, creation rather than control, you’re killing the potential of a site by ignoring what your own senses and experiences are telling you.

    Deny it all you want, but this is first and foremost a craft and that means intuition and personal judgment has to have a place. When does any media start sucking by and large? When people start demanding accountability for the unaccountable. When they try to quantify what will make a game, a song, a movie, a toy or a site popular without really understanding what goes into the thought process from an artistic or development perspective and then finding and repeating a meaningless pattern ad nauseum because they got too hung up on a formula for success.

    I saw a big blogfest by a bunch of UX guys talking about how Google’s success wasn’t accounted for by its design, which was bad, apparently. Here’s the thing: I’ve never had a problem using Google. It’s never felt awkward. The elements didn’t need to be clumped together “where the action is” by which I assume they meant the actual search field. What links were placed where never struck me as odd and I think I’ve clicked every link on that old-school Google page at one time or another so I didn’t miss anything. It works. It’s easy and instantly recognizable. I didn’t have to think too hard. It provides a tool to help you solve problems and then gets the Hell out of your way. I’m not surprised to find things where they are. That’s good design.

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  8. KAIZEN meaning small constant improvments is the key word here.

     

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  9. Hi David, Great blog – I teach sales & website marketing to students/companies – the question I am asked the most by my students is did I get it right? The answer I give often surprises most of my students. Is the customer happy with the goods & are they happy with you? …

    In reality the salesmen that recite their scripts to perfection are actually worse salemen than the ones that make a few blunders & appear more natural & imperfect to the customer. Web design is no different – the flaw can sometimes be the making of a site & how the customer remembers you – there is of course a flip side to that…

    Lack of attention to detail can in reality kill a site at the worst or make it look sloppy – see “web design mistakes”:http://www.vuzudesign.com/web-design-blog.php?comments=1&aid=51&article=Top+60+Web+Design+Mistakes+of+2009 – one of my students websites is at the very least basic as far as design goes but perfectly formed as far as quick loading – working in any browser and well written for search engines – can’t help thinking though perhaps he hasn’t shown off his creatve skills to potential customer – see “web design cheltenham”:http://www.vuzudesign.com but who’s perfect?

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  10. Great article. thank you

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  11. Truly a very inspiring article.The approach of asymmetrical design to gain perfection is true in many sense.
    Great Article…..thanks again

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  12. Great article. Living in Japan I could really see the ideas of Wabi-sabi that are being mentioned.

    The Golden Ration is also a wonderful idea to incorporate into the equation of designing through balancing perfection/imperfection.

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  13. We made russian translation of this article:

    “Красота несовершенства”:http://www.internet-expert.ru/news/articles/155/

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  14. Wonderful to encounter Wabi-Sabi in this context. Yes, really nice thinking about ‘heart’ in the context of web design.

    Much food for thought … thanks for the great post.

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  15. I always wondered why I loved fonts that look like handwriting, hand drawn/scanned illustrations in presentations and slight imperfections. I think they make things a little bit more human.

    I never comprehended why. Reading about Wabi Sabi and the mention of shobuye helps a bit. I like the article at several levels and I love the discussion.

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