Leading the design process

We are going through the Lingopal design process at the moment for various products (J2ME, Website etc.). It’s all heating up as launch approaches.

This is the worst nightmare result – design by committee:

(via Slashdot’s new idle.slashdot.org)

Above all the video demonstrates what happens when you have lots of people inputting and yet no real decision maker. You lose simplicity, and gain features. Great design is the reverse.

Ideally the decision maker is the graphic designer/business guy/founder/programmer/marketing guy, and s/he has remarkable talent in all those areas. Clearly that doesn’t happen that often.

However no matter what the team’s composition, there does need to be a boss, someone who actively  solicits input, actually values and uses that input, “gets” what great design is, has a very clear vision for the product and is the final decision maker. This too doesn’t happen as often as it should, but it does happen enough. Apple with Steve Jobs, and Trade Me are two examples of this working well.

During my time at Trade Me the design and usability talent was excellent, but ultimately one person made the go-no go decision on design. That person was Sam. The result may not have been agreeable to all, (nobody else liked the name “SMaps”), but it almost always was, and we were also very quick to change tacks when the results were not up to expectations.

For website and product design there is often no right answer – there may be better answers, there always worse answers, but until the products is tested in the real world we just don’t know the result.

Published by Lance Wiggs


One reply on “Leading the design process”

  1. Hi Lance,
    i have directed the other students on our Leadership paper to this video via yr blog. hope you don’t mind.
    It will probably explain the spike in viewers !!!!

    Anyway, after attending a meeting at an NZ Govt SOE recently i have now come to the conclusion that this is actually a training video that they use.
    At my meeting a name had been decided and confirmed by senior management, but the marketing person (of what 20years old) still wanted to organise a ‘focus group’ to get more feedback on the name – to hell with the costs of changing the paperwork. Oh, and they needed to check also with the ‘digital strategist’ (fancy name for the person in IT who uploads the website marketing data) as to how difficlt it would be to upload the new name from the ‘focus group’ to the interweb.

    at least i know my hardearned peso’s are being wisely mis-spent.



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