The Simple Line Only Looks Simple

A friend recently reached out to me and asked for some help with her new book cover—the designer at the publishing company she hired wasn’t quite understanding what she wanted. Miscommunication issues on both sides were resulting in a boring design that my friend wasn’t enamored with (a squiggly “hairball” that unwound its way across the cover), and she really wanted to love the face of the book she’d been writing for the past two years. Made sense to me.

Since the current image wasn’t working, my friend wondered if I could play with it a bit.  Of course, I agreed. After all, how long could a little tweak here and there really take me?

Longer than I thought. If you want to be literal, it took me 20 years of experience to know how to draw a simple line that extended out from the original “hairball” design. But in reality, it took 3 hours and multiple pages of Illustrator-drawn squiggly lines that I ended up cobbling together to make the perfect one.

What I Learned about “Simple” Projects

I thought it would be a lot easier than it was to complete the book cover design, but sometimes projects take longer than you anticipate to get just right, even if they look simple on the surface (or cover, in this case).

Keep that in mind next time you’re working with a designer on something that “should only take a few minutes to do” or looks like it could be “super quick.” Good design takes time, and it might not be as easy as you think (though you could certainly ask them why if the hours or costs are higher than you expect).

And Check Out the Book!

Be sure to add Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres to your reading list. It’s written for product people (designers, software engineers, and product managers), but has some great food for thought that can apply to just about anyone who works with customers (and who among us doesn’t?).