Too Many Cooks Spoil the Dish
I’ve heard other designers say, and I know from my past agency life, that agencies sometimes have an odd policy for generating designs for client websites. I’m referring to the practice of having several designers create designs independent of one another, to be submitted for consideration by either the client or the creative director.
This is a harmful practice that is a holdover from the days before websites, when the main product design/marketing agencies sought after was creativity. In the quest for the coolest idea and most interesting creativity, a “design-pageant” can pay healthy dividends. Not so much, however, in the context of Web design.
I said that this practice is harmful for Web design and here’s why. First, this approach takes the focus away from what is actually relevant to the Web. Lots of ideas submitted by separate individuals works pretty well when one only needs to produce compelling visual design. A website is about far more than graphics, though. Instead of focusing exclusively on the client’s needs and aims and the site users’ needs and expectations, this scattershot, competitive approach is more about focusing on the designer’s need for success?to win the design contest, as it were. No matter who wins, it is likely that the client loses.
Additionally, this approach may keep a flock of designers busy and each feeling like he’s engaged, but the results may not often address some other very important issues. For instance, someone must have their feet held to the fire; someone must be ultimately responsible for the design. This person must be a designer (not a project manager or agency principal). And it cannot be several designers at once because when everyone’s responsible, no one is responsible. Further, it’s far better for the client’s project experience and peace of mind if she knows who is responsible for the quality of the site’s design and user experience. Trying to obfuscate on this matter is simply unprofessional and makes the agency look silly and irresponsible.
Lastly, the designers are also the losers with this approach. Aside from competition robbing focus from the actually relevant factors, it fosters an antagonistic environment. In a multi-designer environment designers should be in the practice of working together, not against each other. Each should support and work for the success of the other?for that is how a great agency is built.
We have 3 designers at Unit Interactive, but each project has only one designer assigned to it. That person is ultimately responsible for the success of the project. We regularly make a practice of collaboration, with varying degrees of involvement (determined by the one responsible) and we find that individual ownership allows for far better collaboration. Without responsibility there cannot be success, or even an excellent effort. Excellence demands responsibility and ownership, not consensus, and it is success (not “winning”) that we’re after for our clients.
Would you agree or disagree? How does it work in your agency?