A blog about trying to make yourself better at making and designing websites. Also about random shit.

Ask questions. Don't be afraid of looking dumb.

As I'm writing this, I'm in the middle of reading a book called Unsubscribe (it's really good). The book mostly deals with e-mail anxiety, and it was interesting to learn the theory that everyone is either raised to be an "asker" or a "guesser."

In an ask culture you are taught that asking for whatever you need is fine, with the understanding that the person you're asking can always decline. In a guess culture, you are taught that you should only ask for something if you think you are very likely to get a yes.

I think that this not only extends to e-mail, but to our jobs as web developers and designers as well. And I'm not just talking about people who actually work on websites professionally but beginners who are also learning this stuff as well.

I know for a fact that when I started working in the field, I hesitated to ask questions.

Everybody probably thinks that this is obvious—I'll just learn this on my own.

If I ask questions people might think I don't know what I'm doing and get fired from this job.

Is this what they meant to do? I don't want to go bother them though.

If I post this question online people are going to think that I'm too dumb to work in this field. It's going to be on the Internet forever.

What ends up happening is that you spend too much time thinking about what other people are going to think of you and way too much time figuring out what the answer to that question is.

Asking is literally a part of our jobs as designers and developers. Think about it. We ask questions like:

  • Who is our audience for this website?
  • Why are they here?
  • What are they used to seeing?
  • Why do similar sites do it that way and not this?
  • What is the best way to implement this?
  • How much time do we have to make this?
  • Who else will be working on this?
  • Where do we host it?
  • Why use this framework instead of that?

So don't hesitate. Just ask away. Ask your teammates, ask your boss, ask other designers, and ask other developers.