Death to Design by Committee
Why design by committee exists
Although to those of us who have experienced design by committee the drawbacks seem obviously, to a first timer it can appear necessary and even appealing.
Some of the common reasons for design by committee include…
- The website owner is not the decision maker – Instead he is a project manager who has to get approval from higher in the organisation. This is a particular problem on larger websites.
- The website owner feels out of his depth – Many website owners have never run a website or made decisions about design. They therefore feel the need to get the advice and opinions of others to reassure themselves about their decision.
- Because design is subjective – The very reason designers argue against design by committee is also a reason for it. If design is subjective how can the website owner be expected to make a design decision alone? Surely they need to consult others to get a wider opinion than their own personal tastes?
- It shares the responsibility – In many organisations there is a culture of blame and ‘arse covering’. This inevitably leads to website owners being reluctant to make decisions alone. They know that if they consult widely then it is harder for them to be blamed when things go wrong.
- It is politically necessary – Many website owners know that committees are bad for the design process. However, they are left with little choice if they want a design to be approved. Without consulting internal stakeholders the design is likely to get blocked on principle, whether or not it is a good design.