How to deal with perfectionism and delay in design processes?

Andrés Gualdrón

New Member
Hi everyone!

As a graphic designer, I think I care too much about details, slowing the company processes. For example, a company asked us to create a banner ad but they did not provide the logo nor the style guide to know how to use their logo. We could probably download the logo from the internet but I know that the quality won't be good as the original design file. Also, I am not sure if the logo will be used properly as they have not provided the style guide. The client finally provided the logo but did not provide the style guide, I think we could continue like that but a part of me still believes we should ask the client for the style guide, however, that may continue slowing the design process and in the end, they may not even care...

I find myself in this situation constantly and maybe for the example that I have provided, you may give me the reason but I am the kind of designer who would go back to a design file and render a PDF again just because a bullet point wasn't perfectly aligned even though I know the reader or the client may not even notice it.

How do you guys deal with this? Have you ever had a similar experience where you care too much about details and that is pushing back the delivery of the asset?


I feel for you Andrés. I've been there, done that. I think most designers are perfectionists to some extent, certainly if they are freelance. I think it would be different if you were working in a studio and there are more time constraints.
I bet you've gone back to a job that a client was perfectly happy with but you decide you want it on your portfolio and it just needs a couple of tweaks to get it perfect. Before you know it, that's an hour gone!

I don't really deal with it, I just want things to look right.
Be careful what you're wishing for! I once worked on a project financed by EU and the brochures all had on the first cover the EU logo and I had to read all the "bible" about how to use it correctly... that wasn't fun... The logo end up in the same place where I would've put it anyway, maybe a couple of millimetres left or right but the fun just began when the institution was using the funds had a similar style guide which landed their logo right on top of the EU logo. In the end, they granted me full freedom to choose a suitable, eye-pleasing location for their logo.
So if the briefing doesn't have a mention of the style guide, don't ask for it, use your artistic and common sense abilities and come up with the proof as soon as possible. I totally understand where you're coming from but making the customer wait too much for the first proof is not a good practice... I have this problem when I'm doing something for's a never-ending story...
Don't stress too much these days everybody is a designer and they feel the urge to change something, to put their signature on. Sometimes, not so often tbh, it is an improvement but most of the time is a train-crash...
Anywho... good luck with it!
Being a perfectionist goes with the territory. I have never met a designer who I respect who hasn't been at least some way on to the OCD spectrum.

Honestly, let yourself off the hook. Any designer who resorts to ‘That’ll do’, is on a slippery slope. The trick is making sure that level of perfectionism doesn't slip into your actual life too. It’s a fine line between being a perfectionist and developing full blown OCD!
You're describing what I actually call 'That'll do syndrome'.

This came from way way back when I was in design college, I don't remember the full details, it's one of those things that I'm sure the memory isn't exactly what happened.

But it was along the lines of, one of the students reached a point with their work when they exclaimed out loud, "that'll do" which followed with the lecturer quite heavily berating them in front of the class.
It became a bit of a standard joke behind that lectures back when we'd all declare 'that'll do'!

It was a few years later, working in a commercial studio that it occurred to me the importance of a that'll do attitude to be commercially viable. And in my opinion 'that'll do' is something to embrace not be ashamed of.

I'm not saying anyone should do substandard work. But once you've met the brief and you're happy, sign it off and move on.
If the client isn't happy it will come back for amends which might be when you go that bit extra.
But if the client is happy then you know you didn't need to put any more into it.

Yes I'm OCD, and a bit of a perfectionist, and yes, I think we're all on the spectrum lol. .... but the thing to remember is everyone has their own level of perfect. By carefully working towards 'that'll do', you'll learn to know when to stop and not risk overworking a design.

I'm sure we've all pushed something too far and then been unhappy with the end results. Putting in that extra day and not being happy, and in hindsight thinking it was better before I did that etc.

It's also worth evaluating what the purpose of the job is, is your first job for a prestigious client you've been trying to get a break with for years, or is it a flyer for a local takeaway that will be cheaply printed and mostly end up in the bin. It's not about cutting corners or doing shoddy work, it's about doing what the client wants and making a living.

This approach will help you streamline your work, and be more efficient. You'll work quicker and deliver on time, this will impress clients, you'll be reliable.
I've moved more into product design now (products as in software not physical products) and something I hear a lot is MVP, Minimal Viable Product. This is the first draft of the product that meets the brief. It might not have all the bells and whistles, but working to MVP helps you focus on the important stuff.

MVP is that'll do!

There was another saying that a different lecturer used to say when I was at college, this one also stuck with me...

"if it looks right, it is right"
Sometimes you can create something that is technically correct in every way, but for some bizarre reason, a trick of the light, optical illusion, etc it just doesn't look right. Knowing when to stop, knowing when it's 'right' are good skills to hone.

Good luck
But that said, going back to the OP, yes re-rendering a PDF because a bullet point isn't aligned you must 100% do. I don't think anyone would want to put out work with errors.

And as for the client not providing the assets, you need to factor that into the time and cost. You will learn to anticipate what clients do (or don't do) so requesting logos, style guides, getting colour specs etc all up front becomes part of the quoting process.
Putting it back on the client to provide what is needed, or building in additional time and cost to recreate their assets. This isn't being about caring too much, this is about being thorough and precise.
If a client doesn't have a decent copy of the logo, use the opportunity to recreate it, then provide it back to them with a style guide so they'll know what to do next time. But tell them this is what you can do and charge them accordingly. If the client slows the process, then as long as you keep them informed, give them deadlines, build in delay charges if it impacts other work that you may have scheduled.
Sorry for the late response, but I just wanted to say thank you all for your input! It was really helpful, and it was nice to get some feedback! I'm trying to improve the balance between my OCD and getting work done every day. I've found that guidelines and project management tools help quite a lot, as long as I define deadlines and respect them!

Thanks again!