ASK DN: How long until you were confident in your work?

over 9 years ago from , Latex Salesman - Vandelay Industries

A lot of developers (and designers) openly say they can get better. At what point though, do you have confidence in your work. Whether for production level code, working on something on your own, or leading a project?


  • Nathan RomeroNathan Romero, over 9 years ago

    As a designer/developer, I don't know if you'll ever have complete confidence in your work, no matter where you're at in your career. I think that openness to feedback and a willingness to learn from mistakes will get you a long way.

    The moment you start to get complacent and satisfied with everything you make is the point where you stop growing in your profession.

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

      On top of this, we're in an ever developing industry.

      No rest for the weary.

      4 points
    • Andy MerskinAndy Merskin, over 9 years ago

      Agreed. I think it's important to find satisfaction in hard work, even if it isn't perfect or didn't get the best reception. Always see your work as a point of growth. Every experiment and every risk is a step towards progression.

      1 point
  • Ross JohnsonRoss Johnson, over 9 years ago

    I was extremely confident when I first started designing professionally. It's only with experience did I learn how much I had (and still have) to learn.

    17 points
  • Will BakerWill Baker, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    I think the strongest indicator of when someone feels confident in her work is when she starts charging for it.

    As people are saying, a good designer knows she'll always have things to learn and skills to develop, but I don't see that as a sign of insecurity at all—I'd say it's a product of confidence. Even if most of us see it as an obvious conclusion, it takes a lot of nerve to reach it; to admit to personal faults or gaps or inadequacies.

    It's like Plato/Socrates, right? The most assured, confident philosopher is proud to highlight the limitations of his understanding of specific things, because that demonstrates his understanding of all things.

    8 points
    • Ryan Hicks, over 9 years ago

      This is correct. You get to the point of feeling confident to charge someone for services, but staying humble and knowing your faults is what makes you a good designer. You should always be learning. We are all in an industry that rapidly changes every year. If you're not constantly learning and improving your previous work and skills then your arrogant and probably won't be in this industry that long. Keep an open mind.

      2 points
  • Joseph BarrientosJoseph Barrientos, over 9 years ago

    i feel like i know im good, but theres so much more room for growth that i don't think about me being good, but how i can still improve.

    2 points
  • Keiran LovettKeiran Lovett, over 9 years ago

    Somewhat relevant. I used to have a big issue calling myself designer - originally web designer, now game designer. I thought that by calling myself one as a student I was in a way devaluing the industry and others. It took a lot of sly jabs from my professor and exposure to the business aspects of design for me to start confidently announcing 'I am a game designer' instead of 'I am a student in game design'.

    I still have a lot of work to do on my portfolio. Once I have a published project of my own I'll hit a new level of confidence - but having lead game design projects, met industry leaders with no empty hands, and the ability to pitch a solid concept I'm confident in the work I CAN do.

    2 points
  • Ryan MurphyRyan Murphy, over 9 years ago

    Be confident in your ability to improve, rather than your current state.

    1 point
  • Sjors TimmerSjors Timmer, over 9 years ago

    A decade or something :)

    The main thing that I have gained is the confidence that, what ever problem comes on my way, future me can probably deal with it.

    Which means that I can allow myself to focus on the problem at hand and worry about all the other worries later.

    1 point
  • Cesare Rocchi, over 9 years ago

    The second you start getting confident is the second you stop learning. "Feeling done" is pernicious to me. Somebody said (I can't find the reference now) that "every version is a prototype". I think (s)he's right.

    1 point
  • Drew ShimomuraDrew Shimomura, over 9 years ago

    Ugh, I've tried to answer this for 15 minutes, but it's difficult. I'll try to respond a few different ways:

    • Knowing that you can get better and having confidence are not mutually exclusive. For example: "I feel confident that I will continue to get better" is a totally rational thing to say and think.

    • It's also a matter of what the "object" of your confidence is. For example: "I don't feel confident that I could run the UX team at Twitter, but I do feel confident that I could make solid contributions as part of their team."

    I hope that's helpful!

    1 point
  • Braden HammBraden Hamm, over 9 years ago

    For years, I had the feeling that I had gotten jobs by accident, and some day I would be "found out" and they'd let me go.

    Only recently have I realized that they hired me for a reason. I belong here.

    1 point
  • Paul JarvisPaul Jarvis, over 9 years ago

    I've been designing/developing for 20 years and I'm still not 100% confident...

    1 point
  • Matt SistoMatt Sisto, over 9 years ago

    This thread is making me feel a lot better about how terrible I always feel about my own work :)

    1 point
  • Simon GoetzSimon Goetz, over 9 years ago

    I am always confident that no matter how far along i am in a project, it can be better.

    1 point
  • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, over 9 years ago

    Admitting to yourself and others that you DON"T have all the answers is confidence in your ability to follow a line of enquiry to its conclusion and create something meaningful.

    0 points
  • Keaton TaylorKeaton Taylor, over 9 years ago

    I'll let you know when I get there.

    I'm 30 and am already getting the heeby jeebys about young kids designing better things and knowing more tech and generally getting started younger than I did.

    0 points
  • Helen TranHelen Tran, over 9 years ago

    There's an end to this?

    0 points
  • Cliff BoitCliff Boit, over 9 years ago

    Frank sums it up: http://thegreatdiscontent.com/frank-chimero

    [Ryan to Frank] Are you satisfied creatively? Yeah, let’s talk about this. I think this question is bullshit, man. I know that this is sort of the namesake of the site, but the reason I think it’s bullshit is because the way you frame a creative practice should not be in terms of whether you’re content or not. I think everyone has a window of approval for their work; sometimes that’s years and sometimes it’s months, days, or hours. Your approval of your work metabolizes no matter what, and it doesn’t matter how good you are. That’s why I hit you up on Twitter recently to say “What if we’re thinking about this all wrong? What if contentedness about your creative work is more like eating?”

    0 points
  • Brian HintonBrian Hinton, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    Both design, and development should almost always be an iterative process. (unless we are talking print of course) I believe through study, and experience you should reach a point where you are aware that the work you have created has accomplished the required goal(s).

    However, you can then improve your work based on study, and research in the next iteration to better accomplish the goal(s). And whether that is through better interaction design, better code, or just a prettier logo... I say throw away the need for traditional confidence, and look at it from a goal approach.

    0 points
  • Joni JuupJoni Juup, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    I think that the only thing you should aim to be confident in, is your ability to reach a working solution. When there's an infinite room for improvement and matters of tastes in play, I don't think you can ever be 100% satisfied in any of your work - and that's OK. You just live with it and make the next work better.

    Take it from Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki : http://www.fastcompany.com/3030423/agendas/how-to-avoid-the-curse-of-creative-perfectionism

    When we look at films we've made, all we can see are the flaws; we can't even watch them in a normal way. I never feel like watching my own films again. So unless I start working on a new one, I'll never be free from the curse of the last one.

    Strangely, I usually feel most confident in my work after I've had the most horrible slump of self confidence. Doubting your work or yourself either paralyzes you or makes you try harder and/or change your approach. Climbing from a pit of hopelessness makes the end result more rewarding than usual, so you kind of learn to enjoy the desperation in a twisted way.

    0 points
  • Zsolt IZsolt I, over 9 years ago

    I have been committed to design for about 10 years. I am still not confident in my work, i second guess everything i ever make or ever made.

    0 points
  • Justin BelcherJustin Belcher, over 9 years ago

    Confidence comes when you learn that you're hired because of your experience, your process, and commitment to a good outcome—not on the off chance of producing something transcendental.

    It's a lot like opening a new piece of furniture that has to be assembled. It's that "I've got this" feeling where you know you'll understand what's required, take great care along the way, and end up with a result that makes everyone happy.

    The dirty secret around any creative endeavor is that nobody is 100% sure they're going to nail it. At best they have a good feeling. Most folks don't even know they've done good work until they're told more times than necessary.

    Trust yourself to figure it out and have confidence that you won't stop working until you do.

    0 points
  • Moeed MohammadMoeed Mohammad, over 9 years ago


    0 points
  • Liz FulghumLiz Fulghum, over 9 years ago

    We are forever comparing ourselves to the designers & developers who we admire most, and it's always almost impossible to measure up.

    But when - consistently - you are paid well for your craft, you are the one that people look to as the expert in the room, when your clients say THANK YOU and mean it ,you have to believe that you're doing something right.

    And then you just have to keep earning that every day.

    0 points
  • Daryl GinnDaryl Ginn, over 9 years ago

    I can be confident, but I'm also extremely self-critical, which is not always a good thing. I'm always too concerned about what others will think, which I shouldn't be. This is often why I can never finish projects, after a while I'll convince myself it can be better and immediately hate it. At this stage I'll either continue redesigning it or I'll get so stressed I'll stop it completely.

    I may have gotten a little off topic.

    0 points
  • Shawn BorskyShawn Borsky, over 9 years ago

    For me confidence has always been about success. When I find that the majority of customers, clients and colleagues are pleased with my work and I help them achieve the goals they wanted then Im confident.

    In my mind, I am always getting better so I can never be satisfied and stop. But, I am still confident that what I do has value and solves problems.

    0 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 9 years ago

    The moment you see something and know you can instantly make it better through your own methods is when you know.

    0 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    Sounds like we all need a pep talk.

    0 points
  • Sebastian SellingSebastian Selling, over 9 years ago

    I was definitely, like a lot of people, a lot cockier in regards to my skill level when I was younger(still young!). Having worked really hard the past 2 years in a startup changed all of that and today I'm very humble and even insecure in regards to what I produce.

    It's a fine line between devastating sense of failure and naive top of the world success for me. One day I can produce something and feel the awesomeness resonate through my whole body, to just feeling completely shit and the worst designer to have ever walked this planet the next day.

    But, I can say - as you get more professional, develop a finer taste and mastering the tools, that it gets better. You trust yourself to get the job done and make people happy. Cus in the end, that's what it's all about: Realising peoples dreams, making them happy (for me at least, heavy burden - I know.)

    0 points
  • Ben LeeBen Lee, over 9 years ago

    After multiple iterations of a design, do I begin to feel a semblance of confidence.

    0 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, over 9 years ago

    I'll let you know.

    0 points
  • Victor ErixonVictor Erixon, over 9 years ago

    Still not confident. Things can always be better!

    0 points
  • Colm TuiteColm Tuite, over 9 years ago

    I'm growing less confident with every day that passes.

    0 points
  • Taurean BryantTaurean Bryant, over 9 years ago

    I still don't really like everything I produce, but it gets to a point in which I will only grow if I do everything under the scrutiny of others.

    0 points
  • Art Vandelay, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )


    Leading a project or team.

    0 points