I saw this tweet about the agreement that Avis Rent-a-Car had with their advertising agency and I loved it for the line that says, "To this end, DDB will only submit for approval those ads which they as an agency recommend. They will not 'see what Avis thinks of that one.'" This really shows that Avis understood what they were paying someone to do and not to do, and it highlights something I think is important in design work: never do a bunch of variations on something and give them all to your client or boss to "see what they think of them."

The novice designer does the above. The experienced designer makes design decisions based on their experience and knowledge of the project goals, executes a design that fits that to the best of their abilities, and then presents it to the boss or client for approval or disapproval. Then they get feedback on that and apply it as necessary.

If you're a designer, you're getting paid to do design. That means making design decisions. And that means cutting out all the stuff that you as a designer, using the skills you've acquired as your speciality, know will not work. By making a bunch of variations to present to someone else to decide on, you're abdicating your role as a designer and asking your client or your boss to do the design work, not you. You're saying, "I don't know how to make decisions that I'm trained to know how to make, or I'm too afraid to make them."

As a designer, you need to have conviction in your ability to design. And that's why this is the distinction between a novice designer and an experienced one. Design is not the act of putting pixels into a pretty arrangement on the screen; design is a process of decision making that culls bad ideas in favor of working ideas.

Yes, you're likely at some point to put a design in front of a client or a boss and the client or your boss hates it. But that, too, is still productive. In that scenario, your client or boss is going to tell you why they think it doesn't work, and it's up to you to take your own collection of design decisions and evaluate them in the face of new knowledge from the client, and then figure out how to adjust your design navigation accordingly. That's not failure; that's just design work.