The problem of "overtooling"


July 20, 2023

We live in a remarkable era of ceaseless tool publication. Comparing the minimalistic toolset from my early design career to the present abundance, the transformation is astounding.

The biggest challenge I observe among young designers is their comparative analysis with veteran designers who have been in the field for over a decade. The emerging talent aspires to emulate them, chasing the same salary, projects, and achievements. But all these aspirations should be underpinned by expertise. By an 'expert designer,' I mean someone who has honed their skills through various projects, learning equally from successes and failures. They are passionate, understand their craft deeply, and the process behind it.

Today's tools are more feature-rich than ever, reducing the time required to design, build sites, write copies, and more. We find ourselves in an era where a tool exists for every minor aspect of our work. As AI accelerates the development of each part of our work, we seem to have developed a growing obsession, making us "overtooled".

To the budding as well as seasoned professionals, I urge, "Prioritize craftsmanship." Mastering your craft will teach you far more than relying on AI and seeking the quickest solutions. At the outset of your career, focus on honing your craft and exploring new paths. Craftsmanship will push you out of your comfort zone, broaden your perspective, deepen your understanding, and open doors to learn new skills. The growth may not be rapid, but it will be substantial and smart. As a beginner, start wisely. Don't rush; learn instead. Prioritize mastering skills over tools.

When I started designing applications, tools like Figma and Sketch weren't available. We relied on tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, making each minor adjustment individually. It was tedious, yet oddly satisfying. I am not suggesting that you abandon Figma and similar smart tools. Instead, I recommend finding a tool that suits you and mastering it first. Let your skills shine through the tool, impressing your clients. Discover your style and leave your unique mark.

By mastering a single tool, clients will seek you out for your expertise in it. Diversifying your time across too many tools could lead to a future sense of confusion. Expertise requires practice, and it's best to start by doing it yourself. Instead of seeking tools to make the job easier and faster, opt for traditional learning approaches like attending courses and reading books.

The current fixation with speed has become the buzzword of this fast-paced world. While it's beneficial, it diverts us from the essence of craftsmanship, which, in my view, every young designer should experience.


PS: I have finally been approved as a Webflow Expert. If you have any upcoming Webflow projects, please feel free to contact me. I am opening a single spot per month for Webflow Development projects, including the design part.

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Petr Bilek - Visual Designer. Small Avatar for Social Media.

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