September 4, 2014

Ego

I remember the first time Bitbucket straight up stole one of my designs. The layout. The borders. The shadows. The exact information on the page!

I was angry.

This is my design. I was the one who put in the time. I spent the hours in a dark room with all the stuff that could be until I had the stuff that should be. I was the one who designed five wrong iterations until I got the right one. And it was good. People loved it. And these — these barbarians just stole it. Every last bit.

I was real angry. I wanted to start a scene. I wanted to get real angry, real public.

But my customers didn’t care. They didn’t even notice.

Because they were my customers. They loved it. They were happy. They got something nice to use. Customers love that shit. They eat it up. Nice to use? Into it.


Ego is such a hard thing. I struggle with it constantly. I struggle with it right now as I’m writing this. I know at my core that when I design software, the most important thing to me is that people are pleased — that they like using my product and it makes their life a little bit better. And I know — I know — that has everything to do with the product, and nothing to do with me.

But here I am. And I want it to be about me.

And to be honest, that’s still the hardest thing about designing products. Design is a job. If I want people to celebrate me, this isn’t the career. My job is to make good shit that people like. And there isn’t room for me in that equation.

There’s the product.

There’s the team.

But more than anything else — there’s the customers.

Those people who make products real. Real life humans with emotions and opinions and happiness and sadness and money. Money that puts food on my table.

So you know, I have to remind myself: it’s about them. It’s about the customers. It’s not about me.

Product: compassion strong enough to ignore your selfish desires in order to build something for someone else.

— Kyle Neath (@kneath) January 20, 2014

Tomorrow — I’ll be a customer. And then it can be about me.


What about Bitbucket’s customers? They liked it too. It made their day a little bit better.

Because of me. I made even more people happy.

But I didn’t get to own that. You know? That’s still hard. But in the long run it’s a good thing. Because it doesn’t matter if I owned it or not. I made something good that people enjoyed. Even more people than usual.

The team that stole my layout? They’re probably good people too. They were thinking about their customers. Not Kyle Neath.

And then someone else redesigned the page. And made it even better.

All without me.

If you'd like to keep in touch, I tweet @kneath on Twitter. You're also welcome to send a polite email to kyle@warpspire.com. I don't always get the chance to respond, but email is always the best way to get in touch.

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