Murphy’s Law in the Life of a Designer

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Probably everyone has heard this epigram. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is what we call Murphy’s Law. This adage came from the Edward A. Murphy, Jr.’s observation in 1947 when he was a U.S. Air Force engineer and the rocket-sled experiment he was part of had all the 16 accelerator instruments installed incorrectly.


He was working for a project that was designed to see how much deceleration a person can stand in a crash. And after seeing a wrong wired transducer, he cursed the technician for it and said: “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it.” The project manager created a list of laws and included Murphy’s line, and thus Murphy’s Law was born.  And from that point, the mantra has been used for many decades until now.


Truly, it adapts to all walks of life. The question is, how does this epigram apply to designers?  Kevin Whipps, a writer and editor at Creative Market, narrowed down the things that could go wrong for designers.


Murphy's Law

Your computer will crash at the worst possible time

As always, designers work on multiple tasks and projects, and the one thing they truly rely on is their devices. And working on so many tasks and trying to beat the deadlines could get a toll on our computers.  Then all of a sudden our computer crashes while we’re in the midst of work.


It’s exactly what the meme says: “Never let your computer know that you’re in a hurry. Computers can smell fear. They slow down if they know that you’re running out of time.”




And the moment that the computer stops working and automatically shuts down, all the hard work are thrown out the window without even saving it.


Designers should learn how to plan their tasks first before diving into work to avoid deadline overwhelm. Planning things out will create a much-organized workflow; you may create lists, you can even put in your reminders to “Save Project 1” to ensure that it is saved before jumping to other tasks. And as old school as it is, our handy-dandy sticky pads can do the trick. By posting the statements “Save your file, dude” could aid us in case our computer crashes in the middle of the task.


Good thing there are applications now that automatically saves your work in case your computer crashes. This feature allows you to recover your file to the status when it was last saved. It may not be updated, but at least you didn’t have to start from scratch again. And besides, it’s not that hard to always press CTRL+S, so make it a habit to always save your files. It is also advisable to work on cloud-based applications as they also have an auto-save function and can be easily retrieved online on any device.


There will be typos on that critical document

Having a lot of things to be done could derange our mind. When it comes to composing critical documents, the more we become meticulous, the more we also become blind to what we are writing because of the strain we put on ourselves.


You’d think that as a designer, you are safe from any mistake that may come up in relation to text and copy. But in reality, even your design projects involve pasting text and you have to make sure that what you have entered is correct. In addition, communication with clients, through email and chat, should also be made sure that every word you typed is correct and no word or misspelling would trigger a misunderstanding that could affect the project.


What designers could do is to have proofreading apps like Grammarly or Ginger to help them ensure that the texts they put in are grammatically correct. Here at MicroCreatives, aside from a QA checker and a creative director to check the quality of every project, we also have writers to help designers check copy accuracy.


Your clients will hate your favorite design and love your least favorite

Even on a tight deadline, it is essential to give your clients options. Give them something to choose from depending on what they think is perfect, what you think the client will find perfect, and what is a compromise of both your perspectives. There will always be a time that the client will love the design you least like. It doesn’t hurt, though, as what’s important is that you were able to provide options and out of those options at least one was approved. That’s all that matters. However, always be prepared for revisions. After all, it’s our job to deliver their vision the best way possible.


Somebody’s already done that design

As designers, we strive to give our clients original creations that speak to what the brand or company stands for. So hearing the words “I think I’ve seen that before?” could really turn a “job well done” to “let’s start again from scratch.”


Working on a tight deadline doesn’t give us the luxury of waiting for inspiration to come before we could start working. We need to get results ASAP without dismissing the quality of it.


What designers could do is to have a break. Yes, I know it is pretty unusual to take a break facing a tight deadline. But by giving yourself a time to walk around or at least do other things could give you a new perspective and could possibly open up a new and unique concept. After doing so, you’ll be surprised at how fast you can finish the work.


You will get creatively stuck when a huge deadline is looming

Every designer’s and writer’s nightmare – creative blocks. The pressure of working on a deadline could really get into our heads and mess up how we work. In the end, it causes us to procrastinate and have nothing for a result.


There are tons of ways you can kill procrastination. What you need to do is to plan ahead before it happens. Maybe tidying up your workspace or having creative habits will help you dwindle it.


The file is never in the format you need

Designers usually work with Illustrator and Photoshop. They will tell their clients what software they are using and ask if the client could send files that are compatible with it. The conversation went well. They understood and promised to give you what you need. But then you’ll receive a completely different format from what talked about.


There are times in our life that miscommunications occur with our clients. And a case like this happens all the time. What you can do is to ask again the client or find a way to work around it, because it seems like the client doesn’t have the file the format you need, that is why they sent a different format. Remember, though, that even if you have to deal with a poor quality working file, make sure that you still do your best to make it top quality as much as possible.


You will miss that one pixel/vector

Again, the more we become meticulous, the more we also become blind to what we are doing because of pressure, usually. Working on small details could be easily missed by our eyes.


Taking a step back could help refresh the brain and reset your focus. And again, it’s always best practice to have another person from your team to check your work.


There will always be edits when your schedule is already packed

After you’re done with the project, you close it and mark as complete, and you have accepted new projects now. You have new workloads to put your attention to, and when you’re about to start on it, a client calls and says “There is just a tiny thing we want you to edit.” And by tiny they actually mean dozen of things to revise which requires more time and effort, stealing your focus from your current commitments.


This reflects the importance of good communication with clients and ensuring their satisfaction. Not having a good grasp of the things they want to achieve could require you to give a lot of attention more than it initially needed, instead of doing it right the first time. And speaking of clear communication, it is also important to confirm first with the client if there is any more feedback or request they would like to give or if you can already close the project and open your schedule for other tasks.


That image you want for the design will always be just slightly out of focus

Nothing is worse than almost perfect. And with designers, a slightly off-focus image is really irritating, especially if it is already the best one of the choices. As much as we want it to be really sharp, that’s all we can work on.


No matter how hard it is, we should see this as an opportunity to get creative. Consider this more of a challenge and a chance to innovate rather than a barrier.


You will never find the font you want when you need it

Searching for the perfect font or at least what you had in mind that you think will suit best a project can be a real pain in the neck. Having an organized system in your computer can help you minimize clutter in your workspace; in this case, the space in your computer. Knowing where things are could speed up your work and diminish the things that could distract you.



Applying Murphy’s Law to a designer’s everyday life can help us determine what we should anticipate. Don’t think of this Law and the related anticipated challenges as things that kill you; think of them instead as reminders to help you prepare and avoid them from happening. As for the things that are inevitable, anticipating the worst that can happen allows you to know what to do in advance so you can easily deal with it as it comes.


Through anticipation, we become equipped before the problems arrive. And as a result, we will become more resourceful and innovative, which saves much time and effort and guarantees a result that pleases both the designer and the client.


Look at the bright side! If anything could go wrong, there is always a chance that everything could go right.