Photo by Dave Lowe on Unsplash

A designer‘s struggle (and a design lesson)

I started 3 Sided Coin a little more than 10 years ago after losing my job during the 2008–09 subprime recession.

After almost a year of freelancing, I formed 3 Sided Coin as a company. In the initial years, the company didn’t make any money at all. We took up projects worth $200-$500. We had a staff of 2 developers so we could provide end-to-end services for digital products and websites.

By 2012–13 our work started to get recognition. I was invited to speak at and attend MetaRefresh 2013. I didn’t speak but borrowed money for flight tickets and attended the conf. I met my future co-founders there and ultimately we founded Uncommon. As a remote-first, design-first studio we worked with start-ups like Swiggy, Flipkart, Myntra, WebEngage, Fisdom, DailyHunt, CleverTap among others.

If you have been reading so far, there is a slim to mild chance that you want to click that Like button. But once you do that, I would recommend staying around.

So that is a perfect rags-to-riches story where an underdog triumphs.

There is nothing false in the story you just read; but there’s heroism by omission, like in the majority of stories you read, see, and hear these days.

When I lost my job, it was in the US where I had attained my Master’s degree. I returned to India but with the privilege of having worked in Fortune-500 companies as a Business Analyst and interacted with the English-speaking population for more than 6 years.

My parents ran a fairly successful business and even during my “struggle” to become a designer and start 3 Sided Coin, I was privileged to have all my financial needs taken care of.

My partner has a well-paying career and has been a great fall-back for me whenever the business goes through a critical phase.

You have seen this script of heroism-by-omission play out before, most crucially in the life and times of the previous POTUS Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has run his entire career repeating the story of him being a self-made successful businessman. His 2016 candidacy was on the same narrative convincing the voters with white lies and heroism-by-omission. When repeated incessantly through multiple mediums, repeated lies become perceptible truth, known as the Illusory Truth Effect.

So where are the design and psychology principles in this?

we have a tendency to perceive a set of individual elements as a single, recognizable pattern, rather than multiple, individual parts. Provided with enough information, we will fill in the missing parts to create a whole.

One of the most popular examples of the closure principle is this FedEx logo and the hidden shape inside it.

FedEx logo is the staple of hidden logo listicles.
This abstract, ambiguous 8-bit figure is no match for your brain’s ability to fill in the details (source)

We use the same principle on the 3 Sided Coin website by cutting off the company name. The shape of the letters here is such that most people can fill the gaps and recognize our name.

When you read the first part of this post, your mind filled in the rest of the details. The principle of closure relies on others’ familiarity with the subject and context. On social media, people read a lot of underdog and rags-to-riches stories, so it is natural that your first instinct would be to fill in the rest of the details that conform to your expectations.

You shouldn’t be hard on yourself for falling into my trap (well, sort of). Human psychology has evolved over thousands of years and played role in the survival of the species by using the same principles.

Please hit that like button if you have been holding it off so far.

Digital Product Designer | Open to selective opportunities | write to tejas@3sided.co.in

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