Another Freelance Web Design Nightmare

Paul Boag has posted recently at Smashing Magazine a great article about corporate website problems entitled 10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites. Actually the whole article is great.  Yet point number 8 got most of my attention and empathy – it deals with corporate website design. If you are a freelance web designer, like me, you have propably gone through that situation.  I have gone several times through that and I have  a very recent case of mine in which I had to recode the site five times because the partners of my client couldn’t make up thier mind. I have brought that section below for you:

8. Design By Committee Brings Death

The ultimate symbol of a large organization’s approach to website management is the committee. A committee is often formed to tackle the website because internal politics demand that everybody has a say and all considerations be taken into account. To say that all committees are a bad idea is naive, and to suggest that a large corporate website could be developed without consultation is fanciful. However, when it comes to design, committees are often the kiss of death.

Design by committee leads to design on the fly
Design by committee leads to design on the fly

Design is subjective. The way we respond to a design can be influenced by culture, gender, age, childhood experience and even physical conditions (such as color blindness). What one person considers great design could be hated by another. This is why it is so important that design decisions be informed by user testing rather than personal experience. Unfortunately, this approach is rarely taken when a committee is involved in design decisions.

Instead, designing by committee becomes about compromise. Because committee members have different opinions about the design, they look for ways to find common ground. One person hates the blue color scheme, while another loves it. This leads to designing on the fly, with the committee instructing the designer to “try a different blue” in the hopes of finding middle ground. Unfortunately, this leads only to bland design that neither appeals to nor excites anyone.

I hope you loved this realistic piece of writing about corporate web design. To enjoy the whole article read more at Smashing Magazine.

0 responses to “Another Freelance Web Design Nightmare”

  1. Justin March Avatar

    The solution is to make 1 person responsible for the design process, although this can be difficult to achieve. Other than that a rigid brief can be used to justify any decision making and stop dissent.

    1. BANAGO Avatar

      I agree. It is miserable to have a lot of people say what it should look like.

  2. Paterson Avatar

    I was recently working with a speaker/presenter on his website, and working together turned into a horror show. I agreed to design his website, and everything was good at first. Later the guy believed that his money could buy everything. It turns out he was planning to have a web maid, instead of a web designer. After the overall design was agreed on, he continued to request constant changes to the design, text, images, and photos. As a speaker, he was great, as a client, he “SUCKED”. Keep away from speakers!

  3. Ego Avatar

    I’m considering another job. My employer is not to sure about design, so the more morons criticizing me, the better. Building the website is taking a full year by now! Another redesign and I quit. Nothing’s worth this.

  4. Man and Van Isleworth Avatar

    Yeah, it is reality, I also feel the same as yours about this issue. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Anonymous Avatar

      I agree that my worst nightmare when going to meet a client is for them to say “myself and the Comittee will approve the design” I have a clause built into my quotes to have one point of contact to agree a design and sign off.