Design Lessons

How To Know When A Project Is “Finished”

How do I know when an idea is “finished”?

At what point do I stop messing with layers, shapes, words, video, etc.?

For the most part, there is usually a feeling I am chasing. A feeling of completion. It can be a hard, moving target to hit. As you improve, your standards will as well. Your own high standards will make it increasingly difficult to let go and call a project finished.

Trust Your Process & Your Skillset

That moment right before you hit send or post can be nerve-racking. Trust the research you’ve done and the conversations you’ve had that led to your final concept. The more work you put in early on, the more sure you can be in the final product. Different projects require different solutions. In the logo design space, some brands need very minimalistic logos while others call for more. Have a clear goal and creative direction as early as possible. You have a particular skillset that has called you to this work. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, and the better your creative intuition will be.

Ask Yourself Important Questions

Before you cross the finish line, ask yourself some questions.

For example:

  • Does this accomplish the goals previously set?
  • Does this convey the right message in a worthwhile way?
  • Is there anything that I can afford to REMOVE from this?
  • Do I NEED to add more on this? (NEED not CAN, important difference)
  • Logo specific: Does it work in black & white and color? Different sizes?
  • Does it work in application? Within the specified context?
  • Are the specifications/parameters correct?


During a recent project, I had someone ask me, “Why can’t it be just THAT?” The “that” was an alternate logo I presented that was less busy than the main one I was pitching. I thought about it and agreed. I’m much better at pruning than I was when I first started designing. However, there are still moments when what I think isn’t enough is actually just right. After finishing a project, evaluate what you’ve created through a critical lens. Others, even those who don’t have your expertise, can help you better judge the work’s efficacy.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Leave It Alone, Come Back

If you’re still struggling with whether to know you’re finished or not, take a break. Take your eyes and hands away from the computer and leave it as is. Sometimes you won’t know you’re finished until you stop messing with it. Let it sit with you for a bit.

Wrapping up a project means achieving creative satisfaction and overall accomplishment. You have to feel positive about your effort and confident in its success (however you interpret that). When it feels right, you’ll know.

Just know that sometimes you’ll have to give yourself permission to be done with it. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection come at the expense of the commitment of completion.


RESOURCE: A Design is Finished when… (via Abduzeedo)