The Speed Mentality

by Tom Kenny (@tkenny)

In my experience of working in the web design industry, one thing has really bothered me over the years. I like to call it the speed mentality.

The problem is that investors, employers, project managers and others always want projects done as soon as possible, which makes sense in a way, but the problem I have is the quality of the work suffers when we are pressurised to finish as soon as we can. This leads to more problems down the road as related elements break or fall apart slightly. I posted a funny gif animation which represents how working with CSS can be sometimes. This was notable by almost everyone in my previous job and I’m sure it was primarily caused by “The Speed Mentality”. Certain aspects had been rushed and time had to be spent going back and fixing things. Too much time.

In another job, I was constantly given work to do that I had to complete in a short period of time and then immediately move on to the next project with similar strict time constraints. At no time was I given the freedom to take my time and think about new ideas or even try and do work to a standard I wanted, let alone trying to improve the standard of my work, which I always strive to do with every project.

When I did manage to squeeze some valuable time to think of new and interesting ideas, no-one would listen. I would have appreciated someone at least listening, even if they said it wasn’t something that could be done as the focus of the company was on other areas for the time being. Maybe that’s a separate issue but I believe it’s a direct result of the speed mentality.

I know my work suffered as a result of having to do as much as possible. So much so, that in the space of a year, I didn’t have any work I could proudly add to my portfolio, only one project that I was just about happy to include. That isn’t normal. I could sense the same from the rest of the team too, not that I actually spoke to any of them about it but they did all seem to be somewhat relieved when we where all made redundant.

I believe we were made redundant because our work wasn’t up to the standard the new owners (we had just been bought out by a bigger company) were used to. That may have been the case but it was only because we weren’t given sufficient time. We had to cut corners as much as we could get away with.

The people who I’ve worked with are smart people. If they were given more time to work on tasks and projects, those projects could have been extremely good and not contained any of the problems we had to face as a result.

I don’t really have any solid advice other than if you’re in a position where something like this is happening, try to do something about it. Point out where things are going wrong and ask for more time to get tasks done. If you’re granted extra time, make sure you absolutely take advantage of that and demonstrate why it is beneficial.

If you have any similar stories and/or useful advice on combating the speed mentality, I would love to share it in a follow up blog post. Tweet me @tkenny on twitter.

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by Tom Kenny

I’m a freelance web designer and front-end developer with over 7 years of experience designing for the web. Follow me on Twitter here.