Why Designers Leave (medium.com)

over 9 years ago from , Design Lead at Gametime


  • Murat MutluMurat Mutlu, over 9 years ago

    Pretty much every designer I've spoken to in the last few months has a side-project where they put all their real energy and passion.

    It feels like something is stirring in the creative industry, interesting to see what happens

    6 points
    • Christoph OChristoph O, over 9 years ago

      Do you think it might just be a way for them to expand their skills and play with new ideas and tools? Any job has specific requirements, and since designers by nature have lots of ideas of their own, I think it might just be normal for everyone to tinker on the side.

      0 points
      • Nick HNick H, over 9 years ago

        Personally, that's how it is for me. I wanted to build up particular skills that I didn't get a ton of experience with in my day job. The product I'm working on isn't really geared toward my passions, but that wasn't why I agreed to work on it.

        0 points
    • Jeremy RouxJeremy Roux, over 9 years ago

      This. It's the same feeling around me too.

      Unfortunately, most projects will have constraints and/or changes, I personally take it as part of the job (although I wish I didn't have too).

      That's where personal/side project become more important, it's a way to put your unrestricted passion into it and from what I'm seeing lately, those become to the most promising, daring and interesting projects.

      0 points
  • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 9 years ago

    This problem is not unique to designers.

    5 points
  • Alex CasonAlex Cason, over 9 years ago

    This article should be titled "Why Anybody Leaves". It is not unique to designers.

    It's also not necessarily a bad thing. We'd all like to work on a project where we can just do whatever we want, however, some of the best work is created when you have to adapt to constraints imposed on you. It challenges you to come up with creative solutions in ways that a project with no problems ever would.

    3 points
    • Sabrina MajeedSabrina Majeed, over 9 years ago

      I think it does apply to anyone but I think it's safer to say "Why Designers Leave" and speak from her personal experience. People are really quick to jump down your throat if you claim to know how they think and you get one little thing wrong. This was targeted to an audience the author genuinely knows well.

      4 points
  • charles riccardicharles riccardi, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    Honestly, I think this post makes a lot of sense, if you’re talking about Facebook specifically (and maybe a few other companies). Think about why designers go there in the first place? I would venture to say that it's 1. For the incredible group of talent that they have there. You're bound to grow and become even better just being around those people everyday. I have been to their offices, and it’s simply inspiring. And 2. Your work (no matter how small) will be exposed to millions, and possibly billions, of viewers. That is usually part of the pitch.

    If I’m speculating, I would guess that designers end up realizing the type of things that they work on, is not something they're truly passionate about. It doesn’t provide a huge amount of value to them. Their interaction on FB might be to connect with some people, host an event or two, or just browse the feed, but ultimately, it doesn't feed the designer itch.

    I have always been inspired by my friend Ben Blumenfeld (previous design lead at FB) and his passion for areas/fields that currently lack any type of design (health, education, energy/environment, etc.), and greatly need it. He began Designer Fund, because he saw a huge need in these areas. I think after the initial hype, and excitement of working at FB, designers want and feel empowered to go off and continue building newer (and potentially very powerful) things. If this is one of your reasons for joining Facebook, then I think you made a good choice.

    Now don't get me wrong. Facebook is fantastic as both a product and a company. You can connect with people that you haven’t seen for years as a consumer, and as an employee have free meals provided for you. Either way, it’s a win. I just wonder if anyone who works there truly feels like they have created and/or are helping build a revolutionary product.

    Again, these are just thoughts. I would love hear yours.

    2 points
    • Tom WoodTom Wood, over 9 years ago

      I like your post and your suggestion, but I would counter that it isn't just about FB - this is the case in many places.

      I worked as a developer & designer in the DVD and Blu-ray industry for 8 years and this was a problem there too.

      Scroll to the comment on this thread about education - same feeling.

      The "grass is greener" effect is essential to our development as humans, perhaps if we perceived all the grass to be the same shade of burnt-out brown then we'd never strive to change.

      1 point
    • Sabrina MajeedSabrina Majeed, over 9 years ago

      I think it's more than just Facebook or other companies of that scale. I've experienced this at the last two startups I worked at, which pretty much put a nail in the coffin to the lure of the free-wheeling startup lifestyle for me. Younger startups probably face more pressure from investors (such as in the article's metaphor) because they have yet to prove they can take their own risks and get away with it.

      On the flip side, I get it. What we might think is high quality work might not 'sell' as fast or as much as the people running a business would like. While I do think designers play the long game when they focus on high quality work, sometimes that's not what a particular company or business needs right now.

      0 points
      • charles riccardicharles riccardi, over 9 years ago

        Sure. I guess the point I'm making is that no matter what company you're at (even if you're doing high quality work there, and the benefits are insanely great) that you won't stick around if you're not passionate about (and can't align with) company vision or purpose of the product.

        Also, not all small start up companies are the same. Come check out Highfive some time. Seriously, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

        0 points
        • Sabrina MajeedSabrina Majeed, over 9 years ago

          Sorry, didn't mean to imply that all small startups are bad. There are definitely a lot of well organized, functional companies of a small scale (Makeshift is one I admire). I think I just have had bad luck at picking them or the environment just isn't for me. Is Highfive in SF? I'm going to be out there in a few weeks :)

          Totally agree though with not aligning to the company vision. I think we (generally speaking) also take for granted how natural it is to change you feel about a company. Especially when you're young, the type of problems you want to solve at 22 are different than how you may feel at 25. Likewise, companies change a lot as they grow too.

          0 points
  • Patrick LewisPatrick Lewis, over 9 years ago

    While this article hit home for me (and I'm sure a few others here), I think it's important to note that other professionals experience this same feeling. Example: Teachers, who are confined to teach only what's included in standardized tests, and then don't feel proud of the work they've done or the impact they've had.

    It's important the work we do is appreciated but it's equally important that we're proud of what we create. One doesn't guarantee the other.

    2 points
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 9 years ago

      I think teachers are a brilliant example. "Our" education system (read: anywhere on the planet really) is so fundamentally flawed ...

      1 point
  • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    I believe this is something shared by all creatives.

    My brother is a musician, producer and musical director—he struggles to find the balance between supporting his family, and soulful fulfillment with his creative expression.

    I personally—along with (I presume) every designer on this forum—can relate to this. It’s our yin and yang, the nagging fantasy of, "What if I could just make things for the sake of their existence, instead of making things to make money—or worse yet—for people who don’t care about what’s made."

    I understand though, people have families and financial obligations, plus, not every project even has the available resources and potentiality to be that fulfilling creative expression.

    What’s more, I think as creatives we’re naturally our own harshest critique. My experience has been, that even on projects where I’ve had carte blanche, I still find areas I’m not proud of; areas I know I could do better… and so begins the infinite chase of perfection.

    I think realistically, designers—or creatives as a whole—need a healthy balance of creative freedom and pride in their work, but within the bounds of business and real-world constraints. One can’t thrive in any extreme.

    1 point
  • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 9 years ago

    It's a constant struggle between $, success (In the eyes of those around us), and our own desire to do REALLY good work.

    1 point
    • John LockeJohn Locke, over 9 years ago

      Then we must do what we are truly passionate about first, do you agree? You can always make more money, the time spent on a project you can never get back.

      0 points
      • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 9 years ago

        Of course I agree, but I would be lying if I didn't say the other two didnt have some kind of pull on me. The pull to provide for your family and pay off loans, the pull to impress friends and family, but to me the pull make really excellent things is stronger and I am working towards that goal now and it feels great.

        0 points
  • Jonathan YapJonathan Yap, over 9 years ago

    It boils down to the decision makers throwing money at you and grab you by the balls, saying 'Make it happen or I'll take my money elsewhere'

    One does wonder, if these decision makers are making the right choice, yet sometimes not willing to compromise because they ultimately have the say.

    Situations can work in or against your favour depending on your situation. I feel that you have to decide if this is the reason worth leaving. If its a one off situation, its alright, but a persistent one is one you have to be wary about.

    0 points