Monday, October 01, 2007

The Flip Side of Collaboration--
UX magazine had an interesting article about how to ruin a design that basically laments how the quality of a design deteriorates with an increase in time or number of people reviewing it. Quite frankly, it rubbed me the wrong way, but it was entertaining and is a good counterpoint to my continual championing of collaborative reviews. Actually, I'm in sympathy with the author's viewpoint, but I'm just afraid that it sets up an elitist designer's perspective that devalues the input of non-designers who might be in closer touch with the business objectives behind the design or reminders that most users of a design aren't looking for the latest in "cool." Designers left to their own devices are as dangerous as programmers or writers given the same lack of outsider oversight.

At any rate, it is an amusing and articulate read.


Christy ~ Central Air said...

The statement "Anyone with an eye for great design, no matter what their job title is." made me throw up a little in my mouth. I think that what the author was trying to say was, "Anyone smart enough to realize that my design is a great design."

My team attempts to find the right balance in this area by identifying and getting buy-in *first* and from all the right folks (and lots of them) on the Requirements and Use Cases and then involving the right (much smaller group of) folks in formulating the user experience design. With that strategy, we can usually position the design review appropriately as an exercise in determining if the design accurately implements the agreed-upon requirements, rather than an exercise in who can come up with the most creative design ideas.

Uh oh... hopefully I haven't described our approach in as nauseating a tone as the author of that article.


Mike Hughes said...

That same phrase "with an eye for great design" raised my hackles a bit. Reminds me of writers with no formal training in the craft who claim to have "a knack" for it.

Brandon said...

This seems more like the rant of a designer that has just had their precious design ripped apart. The whole thing reeks of "I am the designer-god". The gall of thinking that only a few "educated" people have a right to offer design suggestions is amazing! It sounds like he needs to spend more time getting things defined before he commits to a full blown design (iterative design anyone?)

I can somewhat see the author's point in his assertion that the quality of design can deteriorate when there are a lot of people reviewing it (especially when the reviews are conducted independently instead of as a group). But I think it is a part of the designer's role and responsibility to communicate what has influenced design decisions. This is something that I have found to be very challenging. I always keep the minutes of design review meetings and post them on a wiki article of meeting notes. Doing this provides a centralized place that everyone can follow what is going on, allows people to make comments, and most importantly helps me remember why the design has evolved the way it has (which really helps when you have to explain things).