Delight is in the Details

Delight is in the Details

I’ve been in the creative space for 20 years.

For the first half of that I was a drummer, traveling and recording and doing studio work. Then one day I bought my first Mac and taught myself print design. Around that same time I started my first website and began writing online. I soon taught myself HTML and CSS so I could build and maintain my own weblogs because it was important to me that they look unique rather than looking like a template.

A few years later I stopped drumming and began working full-time as a print designer for a non-profit Christian organization. They later promoted me to lead their in-house design team which consisted of roughly 20 designers, developers, writers, editors, photographers, and project managers.

After three years leading that team, I quit to begin writing full-time at

If you’ve ever worked at an in-house design team, or done freelance for a corporate client, you know how much of a challenge it can be to build projects you’re proud of. And if you’ve ever worked on your own projects, you also know how hard it is to stay focused and see your tasks to the end.

There are so many factors (internal and external) which war against the making of great art. Building a delightful and usable website takes so much more than a nice font and a welcoming color pallet. It takes time, attention to detail, and skill — things we never seem to have enough of.

Great work doesn’t just manifest because we have the vision for it. Creativity is messy and ugly and difficult. But it’s worth the effort.

Hard work and attention to detail never feel easy or fun or rewarding in the moment, but they always pay off in the end.

Most people who make things would agree. But in the thick of a project, when it seems as if all the little bits and pieces will never be finished, and when we just want to be done with it, that’s when the beauty is crafted. That’s when the little details are polished and set in place. And it’s those very details which add up to form the product itself.

“The details are not the details. They make the design.” — Charles Eames

I’ve written a book that is about this exactly. It’s called, Delight is in the Details.

Delight is in the Details is an audio book and interview series for people who make things. It is written from my experience as a designer, a marketing and creative director, a writer, and a maker of things.

The book talks about the importance of thinking through and refining the details of our projects. It will motivate you to strive for excellence. It will give you ammo to combat forgettable work that is “good enough”. And hopefully it will help you in your daily task to build something that serves and delights your audience.

In the book I talk about the following:

  • The three areas of design
  • What “delight in design” means and why it’s valuable
  • How delight and empathy in our products increase usability
  • What it means to sweat the details and why it’s worth the time
  • How to define “good enough” and discern when to ship and when to keep working
  • Why delightful design is your best advertisement
  • Understanding and overcoming our talent ceilings
  • And more…

Accompanying the book are several interviews with designers, developers, and entrepreneurs:

  • Marco Arment on personal time management and priorities, trusting your gut, the pros and cons of being a solo developer, and more.
  • Cameron Moll on gaining momentum from one creative project to the next, advice on how to break in to the creative professional community, and more.
  • Michael Simmons on building a team that values the details as much as you do, the importance of a great user experience that’s coupled with a good-looking design, and more.
  • Paul Mayne on the balance between custom design elements and native design elements when making apps for iOS and Mac OS X, knowing when to ship a product update and when to wait, and more.
  • Jory Raphael on staying motivated during personal side projects, how constraints can lead to better design, and more.
  • Federico Viticci on what makes a great first impression, the value of function over form, and more.
  • Dan Provost on hardware design, how a high-quality product is vital to long-term success, and more.
  • Chase Reeves on designing for your heroes, overcoming the talent ceiling, the importance of community for creative folks, and more.

* * *

This book is for you if you want to grow in your craft. It’s for you if you want to learn how to do something new. It’s for you if you’re a maker of things who needs a shot of motivation to remind you why it’s so important to sweat the details in that project of yours. If you work for a team that’s always rushed for time and resources, this book is for you. And if the idea of delight and empathy in design excites you, then this book is also for you.

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