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When Designed by Committee

It’s inevitable, as projects and risks get bigger, the number of people involved increases and everyone wants their own view(s) to influence the end result. In some cases this can be helpful, but more likely is the situation we are going to talk about here – the Camel that should have been a Horse.

The problem is that the vision of the project (in this case the horse) needs to come from one source, start splitting that up between multiple minds, ideas and directions and your Horse starts to look a lot less like a Horse.. Here are 3 ways you can identify, help re-purpose and have your next project looking more like a Horse and less like a Camel.

 

 

ONE CANNOT BE EVERYTHING

Know that You cannot be everything, to everyone. The biggest reason the people in your project will try to ignore your shared vision or refute certain directions late in a project – is fear. Specifically, a fear that you will reach more people if you try to account for acute circumstances in specific niches that you haven’t covered in your initial vision. One example might be for instance, that you are creating a design for young adults but the size of the text may not be readable/the design will not make sense to a much older generation.

To alleviate this you need to create an outline, this outline will contain all of the information for a meeting you are about to have. In this information you will describe what you feel the end goal will be, what it will achieve and how it is going to achieve it (and don’t be too precious, chances are this will change A LOT so be rough). You may even want to lay out what each person in the team is responsible for here as well to discuss in this initial meeting. Just make sure that the biggest focus is how you are going to reach your target, describe who this person is that you are making the project for and note any other specific people who this product/service needs to address.

 

 

LISTEN AND THEN DECIDE ON THE VISION

This is absolutely a group effort, this should be the only point in the project when multiple ideas are effecting the actual design, development and direction. Too often, voices are not heard or expressed until later in the project when they will take more time, more effort and have the knock on effect of causing a divergence of the design concept that (this late in the project cycle) essentially blurs the focus of the work.

Before you even begin, take the time to bring in everyone who is likely to have a say in the project. Start with what you want to achieve and then take in everyone’s feedback to create and (if needed sign off) on what the vision will be – this can then act as the cornerstone of your project, representing the expectations of all involved and what the end result of the project should achieve.

Listening here is more important than any other point, do not discount any idea during this process – make sure that everyone is heard, you do not ever want someone who has a great idea or something everyone else has missed to only come out 3 quarters of the way through a project. This, kills, focus and makes your end result less effective.. this is one of the biggest reasons for the execution of bland, mediocre work (hint: you want to stand out! Not fade away, being noticed takes focus).

 

 

LET THE VISION DICTATE CHANGE

Revisions are coming and no-one is perfect so a project without any changes could be as treacherous as one with too many. The key is making sure that the changes are inline with the vision NOT the whims, thoughts and feelings of the people involved in the project. This is hard, a lot harder than you might think and will require a lot of conversation, but if you have had your group discussion to decide on the vision – it will be infinitely less difficult to pull off.

Whenever a change needs to be made or feedback is required, make sure to attach your vision to it so that it is the first thing that anyone interacting with the work will see. This should be something that cannot be missed, a description in plain, simple language, presented in a bold and minimal way. This attachment states in no uncertain terms what your goal is and how the design/development is to focus on that to create the best possible solution.

 

Stating it before every necessary piece, helps those who need to provide feedback to recognise the ‘why’ of decisions made and ushers in a frame of mind where the observer is comparing the work to the vision INSTEAD of what they feel or like internally. This equals less revisions and more purposeful changes that can truly make a positive impact on the end result.

 

 

Chris Kirkby

Chris Kirkby

Graphic Design, Print Design, Web Design + Problem Solving

Hi! I’m Chris, a senior graphic designer based in Ipswich, Australia with over 15 years of industry experience developing and designing solutions to tricky business problems. In the course of my career to date I have worked in creating everything from large eccommerce websites and social media content online, to point of sale marketing materials, internationally sold products, packaging, catalogues and magazines. I’m passionate about problem solving and love to get into the bones of a project before helping to bring it to life.

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