You’re Doing It All Wrong


original article

When learning how to code, design or ship anything of note, it quickly becomes apparent that there are a thousand different ways to get to the same end product. No designer uses Photoshop in the exact same way and most developers have different frameworks, environments and strategies to solve the challenges at hand.

Many times we get the feeling that we’re doing it all wrong. We may even have some of our peers tell us the same thing. They might have a superior understanding of CSS Preprocessors or where the latest JavaScript library was first invented, but an underlying truth still prevails: they haven’t shipped a thing.

While it is important to stay up on current technology, it should never take more time than actually building something. Chances are you’re doing it wrong and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, I would encourage you to do more things the wrong way. Doing more things that are imperfect can be liberating.


Perfection can be off-putting, boring and sterile. You know what I miss the most in the newer music that I listen to? The imperfections. Studio engineers and musicians are now expected to use computers to attain a perfect, inhuman level of precision. That perfection leaves music feeling robotic or plastic. There’s no groove, no swing. Our designs, programs and art should have a human groove too.

Let’s not focus on perfection so much. Let’s get it out there. Let’s let it be real. Let’s let it be human. Let’s let it be vulnerable.


I challenge you, my dear reader, to build something right now. Record the entire thing, as ugly as it may be, and put it out there for public flogging. I would dare say that you will still be alive and that the only people that will criticize what you’ve done are the same people with two thousand ideas that remain twenty percent complete.

The other people that criticize you are the ones that are pulling for you. We should be ecstatic that we work in an industry that cares about giving back as much as ours does. Most industries are overly-competitive and would never help out their peers.

Being vulnerable means that you’ve shipped, and it also just happens to be the best way for us to learn. Show your scars and pull up your dress. We’re all rocking the same goods. We’re all scared but the people we admire have decided that their art is more important than their feelings.

Technology is the Vehicle, Not the Destination

We can get caught up in the technology without “seeing” our art objectively. We worry about Sass, Bootstrap, Backbone, Node, and Compass, or even worse, we take up valuable time learning them just enough to be on top of the industry. It’s not about the technology. Technology exists to make the creation of art easier. It’s not designed to be a constant distraction and deflector of real work getting done.


Musicians, artists, writers, all go about their art differently. They all use different tools, have different strategies, and deliver their work in different ways. “Different ways” means nothing. “Deliver” is all that matters. At the end of the day if you’re not delivering something you’ve got nothing out there.

Even if you’re doing it wrong, you’re still doing it. That alone sets you apart. Shipping is all that matters.

by Josh Long

Josh Long is the Editor at Treehouse. He’s a writer and designer with three books under his belt: ExecuteDesign Evolution & Jenius. He also co-hosts the Happy Monday podcast. Twitter: @joshlong

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