We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

July 16th, 2007

Web Design by Committee

Speak Up, a graphic design blog I regularly read, recently posted an interesting article on the dreaded “Design by Committee” and it got me thinking about this subject.

It is generally thought in our industry (and really any industry that involves providing visual design for others) that the more individuals involved in the decision-making process on design, the more likely the integrity of the project is shot. That is to say, the more people you have saying…

“I like this.”

“No… I like this.”

“Well, you both are wrong, because I like this.”

Means you will never gain a consensus and rather end up making a Frankenstein concept with bits and pieces that everyone likes, but no one loves. It takes an article like the one by Armin Vit over at Speak Up to bring me back around to what is truly reality.

If your vision of a career in graphic design does not involve clients and you have the resources to maintain a sustainable practice of self-initiated projects then you don’t have to worry about committees. Lucky you. Otherwise, your work life hinges on the rapport and dynamic between you and any given committee. Mythically, the committee is the evil association of people sarcastically portrayed in the previous paragraph, faceless drones that eat away at good graphic design like termites at yummy wood. Realistically, they are the group of people you work with, to varying degrees of involvement, from the start of a project until the end. Whether they are note-takers, brand managers, vice presidents or CEOs, they are the people that you talk to and e-mail with, they are the ones that brief you on the project and sit through the presentations of your work, they are responsible for informing your process and ensuring that the work is beneficial to their organization… they are the ones you celebrate with once the project is completed. They are real and they make or break your days, weeks, months and years. And this is why using “designed by committee” as an insult or an explanation for poor work, even if meant as a joke, is detrimental to our profession, and perhaps an underlying thread of why graphic designers are less prone to be taken seriously — if we don’t respect the decisions made by those we work with, why would anyone want to respect ours?

Read the rest of The Perils of “Designed by Committee” as a Pejorative

About the Author
Nick Gernert leads the Platform Services team that's part of Voce Connect and oversees all web development efforts as well as making sure all those efforts are strategically sound. He is on Twitter as @nickgernert.

Filed in Design, Development

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