The bigger picture

Every project starts with a goal. The first step is to understand the goal or outcome of the project. This helps us scope out the work & figure out a path to achieve that goal. But the path is usually not a straight line. You start from one place, take multiple turns & finally reach the goal.

When you get into the weeds, it's very easy to forget the bigger picture with which you started. Your 'goal' changes to something else & you wouldn’t even realise this until you reach the end. I have personally faced this issues with multiple projects. In retrospect, it was majorly because of 3 reasons:

  1. Getting lost in the process
  2. The trap of political correctness
  3. Designing for the medium

Each of these mistakes resulted in forgetting the bigger picture and now let's explore each of these in detail.

Getting lost in the process

Every step we take might not take us closer to the end goal, which is fine. and end up creating something that's totally different from what you intended. Your process becomes the goal.

Let's take an example. I was designing a webpage for Thousand Faces Club. The goal was clear, to communicate the value of the community & make people sign-up.

I looked at multiple inspirations & designed the first version. By this time I kinda figured out the overall structure of the page with different sections that would fit in. Then I started iterating on the designs. I zoom in too much and designed every section in silos. Now my vision was much shorter, to design the best section possible. I assumed that the overall goal would be eventually achieved.

This was a huge mistake. I started to look for smaller wins rather that trying to achieve the bigger goal. There is nothing independent in design. Everything works together to achieve a final goal.

This applies not just for design, but for any project we do. We might have come across films with great scenes but the film fails to work as a whole. It is true that 60 scenes make a film, but 60 great scenes might not result in a great film. The larger picture is what matters and each scene needs to serve the larger purpose. That's when you get a great film.

The trap of political correctness

You might get all the inputs right, but the outcome might not still be achieved. The project that you are doing might require some other tweaks, but you settle before the outcome is achieved because you might think you have ticked all the boxes to achieve the outcome. This problem is especially faced when you are not directly responsible for the outcome of the project and just reporting to some other person.

The goal of the person actually doing is to be responsible for the person who they would be reporting to. We need to break this, and think of the bigger picture of achieving the actual goal rather than convincing your manager/reportee.

Designing for the medium

Whatever you do, it comes down to what medium you product. Message is shaped by medium. When doing a project, it's very important to think of how the end user would consume it and in what medium does your project gets published in.

For example, a poster can be great for a billboard but it can fail terribly on social media. You need to think of the medium to shape your message in order to achieve the goal.

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