The Value of Beauty

Beauty is the most important thing to strive for in all that you create.

Beauty is not just about how something looks from the outside. It’s not just a mask around the functional parts of what you build. Beauty exists at every level and in every capacity. A creation is only a collection of its parts, and if enough of those parts are inferior, the whole thing can never truly be beautiful.

Beauty is consistently formatted code. Debating the name of an internal tool. Drawing wireframes people can make sense of. Organizing your layers in Photoshop. Laboring over the wording of a blog post. Aligning all the screws on the back of a fence. Carefully painting a wall to avoid marring the brick next to it.

Nothing is too small or too insignificant to be made beautiful.

When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

— Steve Jobs

Beauty begets quality and should be considered every step of the way. It enables quick iteration and collaboration, and defines the quality of work surrounding it. By investing time in getting things right from the start, you make it easier for yourself and others to improve upon and interact with your work. Properly formatted code will still make sense years later. Organized Photoshop layers help others understand your designs.

A line of code here. A pixel or two there. It might feel like sweating all these small details will slow you down, but with practice it will become habitual. Invariably you’ll hit a tight deadline and may have to skip some things. The goal is to stop seeing these details as trivial and instead as a natural part of the process.

Avoid making small details into bigger problems later; the granular stuff will be hard to justify fixing once you’ve moved on to other things. Instead, strive for beauty from the very beginning.

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