The art of iterating…

Google iteration and this is what you’ll get:

“Iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate an unbounded sequence of outcomes, or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an “iteration”, and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration.”

I used to think iterating was overrated, always striving to produce the goods as soon as possible with as few tries as possible. That was until I started to participate in Makeover Monday, for those who don’t know about it, Makeover Monday is an initiative run by Andy Kriebel and Andy Cotgreave. A visualisation is found online, posted on Sunday with the companion data set and the task is to find a better way to visualise that data. That can mean a more engaging visualisation, or perhaps a chart that is easier to understand.

My own approach is to allow for some off-the-wall ideas, and sometimes downright less than decent visualisations, but I allow myself that because it makes me better at my job. To me, Makeover Monday is my playground, my practice gym.

But back to the topic of iteration, often we see visualisations that are beautiful to look at or tell a great story, and for those just starting is easy to get demoralised and think – “I’ll never be this good” – however what you don’t see is the work behind the pretty picture, the frustrations and the countless drafts that end up in the bin. I started to notice a pattern in my own process and my own state of mind.

Here’s what that looks like:


At this point it’s good to take a break from it, stepping back is very much underrated and it can often provide you with the clarity needed.


Luckily usually ends with me being proud of the work produced and publishing it.


I’d say that the majority of the creators of content go through most of this on a regular basis. Nevertheless, with practice, you learn to manage your emotions better and the time between each stage decreases. The only way to get good at it is to practice and practice and practice some more.

For example, I’ve been complimented on my good choice of colours but that’s because I’ve been relentlessly looking at colour palettes for the past two years and I try a bunch of colour combinations before I decide on the final one. I also grab inspiration from anything I can get, google, adverts, fashion, anything really.

So next time you start working on a project that is not going the way you expect, remember that sometimes you have to go through multiple iterations until you find something that you are happy with, and sometimes you go full circle and find out that your first idea was the best one after all, even if seemed pretty simple initially.

As always please leave any comments below and thank you for reading.