A Perfectionist’s Rant: Design Obsessions

My perfectionist ideals don’t fit very well with the fact that I’m not good with graphics, and this can make life a lot more annoying.

I guess there was a time when I used to be okay with any sort of theme, graphics and site design. Yeah, there were those times, and it was probably about two years ago when I would have been last happy with anything, any sort of crappy graphics and design that were put up anywhere, and to be honest my life was easier/happier/less annoying back then.

Perhaps it’s unfair to say that I was okay with anything. A more accurate way to say this would be that my ‘design taste’ has changed quite a lot. There’s a perfect example of a theme that would illustrate this. It’s called Freshy. When I just started using WordPress four or five years ago (okay, that’s quite a long time, to be honest, and that just makes me feel old), Freshy was a pretty popular theme. Still is, since Freshy comes up pretty early if you’re scrolling through the “Popular Themes” section of the WordPress dashboard, but back then Freshy was pretty huge. Here’s what the theme looks like:

Now, I’m not saying that it’s a bad theme, or that it’s ugly or anything. It’s just that I’d never have picked this theme to use these days. The reasons are simple.

  • I hate the fonts. I don’t know why, but I have a hate against Verdana. To me it’s just plain ugly.
  • That shiny navigation menu doesn’t look very good.
  • The content doesn’t stand out. The fonts are too small and the posting space too narrow.

But to say that my tastes have changed alone would be inaccurate, too. My standards have also changed. It seems like as I become slightly older, I become a bit more of a perfectionist. Of course, it doesn’t sound good to say

hi im a perfectionist

but I guess that’s an easy way to describe this. I’m not a perfectionist about all things, certainly not. For one, I can easily turn in pretty crappy paintings for Visual Arts. But I’m a perfectionist about design. I want things to look good. People judge books by a cover, which is pretty much why I care about these things. I also like my writing encased with good graphics and web design.

The problem, though, is that I don’t really have the means to get to a site design that I like. It’s okay to be fussy with design if you know your way around CSS and Photoshop. The problem for me, though, is that 1) I don’t know CSS (and I don’t have the CSS upgrade on WordPress purchased anyway, so even if I did know it it wouldn’t be of much use), 2) I don’t know Photoshop (and I also don’t have Photoshop). And before you say anything about me using GIMP, 3) in fact I should learn how to seriously use GIMP but no because it’s hard to use and life is short and I can’t be bothered.

Correction: I can be bothered, and I want to, but I’m just lazy.

This, of course, means that most of the time I’m stuck with whatever the default theme gives me, because I don’t trust my header or background making skills that much. This, also, means that I am subject to the whim of the theme designer. If they were drunk when they were designing their themes and made something particularly ugly and didn’t bother fixing it…well, even if everything else about the theme is perfect, I’m stuck with that.

That leaves me looking for a ‘perfect’ theme that looks good even if I don’t customize, but since I’m quite a perfectionist when it comes to things like this, I can spend ages scrolling through the Themes trying to find something I like. I’ve probably burned away dozens of hours of my life if I combine all the time I’ve spent scrolling through finding themes together. In fact, just today, I probably spent an hour going through the small offering of free themes that Tumblr has. (Yeah, I’m back at Tumblr! I’ll write a post here about that soon, but not today).

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 6.43.23 PM

Sometimes it makes me wonder if designers purposefully makes bad-looking themes so that we buy the premium themes. Well, don’t have the money for that, sorry. But the free themes sometimes just are plain ugly to me or, because of my too-perfectionist attitude, there’s always something bad about the theme that puts me off. The fonts are usually a big thing I pay attention to. The colors are also one.

Of course, this makes life quite hard for me, because I can’t pick a theme and even when I do I’m not happy with it. It isn’t limited to themes though. This often goes for my design of everything. A notable example is PowerPoint presentations (which I spend ages designing).

Which makes life hard.

And that is a rant about my stupid perfectionist obsession with design that makes me spend inordinate amount of time at the Theme section of the dashboard.

Thanks for reading.

-Ken

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