The ‘design by committee’ disaster pit

24 Aug

I have to admit that I am a slow learner!  I’ve been in web development for more than 15 years and it’s taken me about 13 of those years to realise just how damaging it can be to allow design to evolve by committee.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that good design can be created in a vacuum.  I am a firm believer in listening to user and stakeholder input.  Not only that but, by monitoring user behaviour on a site we are privy to intimate clues as to where we, as designers, are going wrong.  However a web site owner needs to be bold, to make informed decisions and follow through with those decisions. As long as your decisions are based on sensible principles, you will always be able to justify your reasons and decisions to stakeholders.

While this may all sound very obvious, it is so easy to get caught up in the need to satisfy everybody’s needs, to be accommodating to stakeholders without thinking about users and to be side-tracked into making mistakes that will land up affecting the overall success of your web site.

One thing I know for sure is that you simply cannot please all the people all of the time.  As a web site owner you absolutely have to be confident in your vision.  Keep up to date with all the latest technologies and tools and engage with your web site users.  If you are truly hands-on and work closely with your site and your team, you can only succeed.

In conclusion,a friend recently quoted Sting, saying that “Art is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship”.  I know that will sound rather harsh to the uninitiated, but for me it is a new philosophy to live by!


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