13 Reasons Not to Design By Committee

I hope you’re not superstitious, because if you are, you may not like this post.  I’m not superstitious, although I am writing this blog post on the 13th of January – and it is a Friday.

Friday the 13th is a scary day to many people, but not to me.  However, what IS scary to me is the concept of “design by committee.”  I get chills down my spine whenever a client or potential client refers to needing to have their committee review all design layouts.  I’m going into my 13th year with NetSource, and in all of these years of experience in the development of hundreds of website projects, I have never seen a project benefit from “design by committee.”

Why is “design by committee” so scary?  Well, here are 13 reasons:

  1. Loss of focus – Nothing kills the focus of a well-defined website project more than a committee.  For some reason committees love the minor details – they will labor over these endlessly – but when it comes to the more important major details “we’ll get back to you on that…”
  2. Loss of direction – By the time the website development begins, the goal for the site is in place and it is time to execute the plan to achieve it.  However, it is rare when all the committee members are keyed into what the plan for the site is.  Many times committee members are brought in after development has started and are providing feedback on incorrect assumptions about the goal for the site.
  3. Indecision – Either there is too much information being tossed around (“paralysis from analysis”) or nobody wants to be the one to step up to the plate and make a decision.  I have served on enough committees to know that the person who speaks up is sometimes the one who gets assigned the bulk of the work.  If your employees already have a large task list of things to do, they may be trying to fly under the radar.  And if they are really that busy, then maybe another committee meeting is keeping them from being productive at their primary job task that just might not have anything to do with online marketing and website development.
  4. Delays – However long you think a website takes to develop, multiply it by a factor of three if a committee will be involved.  I’ve seen it take a month just for committee to find the time to assemble and discuss the color of a text link on a website.
  5. Politics – Committees are not always noble in purpose.  Sometimes they are used as a means of personal gain or “how can I leverage my position to…”  Don’t let petty politics into your online marketing efforts.
  6. Micromanagement – Committees can become very micromanged and want to pull design teams into every aspect of the committees details, thus slowing down the development.
  7. Delays – I know I already mentioned this one, but it bears repeating – there will be delays.
  8. Too many cooks in the kitchen – Your committee doesn’t have to be made up of 13 members to be scary, but you know what they say, “the more the scarier!”  Why stack up and overlap all those resources on one project?  In the culinary arts, it only takes one qualified cook to make an outstanding meal.  It might not be exactly how another cook would prepare it, but if you let two or more cooks fight over the same meal, the end result will not be as tasty.
  9. Compromised work – Compromise isn’t always a good thing.  Sometimes it is settling for less than expected when multiple committee members can’t come to an agreement.
  10. No accountability – If the committee gets bogged down, finger pointing can occur as no one might be taking ownership in the project.
  11. Dissatisfaction – No one is going to have the site align with all of their opinions on the project.  With in-fighting and politics, people will feel their ideas were left out and as a result will feel cheated or let down.  Additionally, strong aspects of the design may have had to get watered down to appease certain committee members, causing overall dissatisfaction with the project.
  12. Frustrated creative – All of these issues will frustrate the creative staff that is working on your site and sap their enthusiasm for the project.
  13. Did I mention delays? I did mention this, right?

Replace your website committee with one person who is committed to working with the design team to create the best possible site for your customers, not for your committee.

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