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6 Ways to Avoid Web Design by Committee on Your Next Project

At first, “design by committee” sounds like a positive thing, similar to collaboration. However, the term refers to design teams that have a difficult time compromising or making wise decisions. That results in a low-quality product. Design by committee occurs when there are multiple people – clients, design team members and/or stakeholders – with their own agenda and whose feedback has equal importance.

Design teams have to work together to turn out a product with a unified vision. Non-designers should stay out of important design decisions unless you’re surveying consumers who will be using the product. Even then, consumers aren’t always correct. There will also be people present in the meeting room who chime in just so they can contribute.

Problems with Design by Committee

Feedback is usually unhelpful when it comes from people who don’t have design experience. For example, even if someone has a good point about aesthetics, they may not understand how their suggestion decreases functionality. You shouldn’t let a client with no knowledge of design tell you how to do your job, and the same goes for non-design team members.

Furthermore, even though clients want to serve their customers, they often lose sight of that and worry about aesthetics or budget. To target user needs, the design team should be in the driver’s seat. They’ll keep the project on task when the client forgets why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Without focus, the design team can spend their time fixing problems that aren’t actually problems and following the advice of inexperienced people. This is the slippery slope of design by committee. They never get to focus on the aspects of the project that should take priority. This uses up the budget and the team members’ time when designing and when testing out flawed designs.

The final product will be of low quality, and when it’s criticized, no single person can be blamed. Instead, people will continue to point fingers until everyone looks like they failed. This causes a rift in the team and an unclear way to fix the issue so it doesn’t occur again.

6 Tips for Avoiding Design by Committee

You can still collaborate with the team while avoiding design by committee. Better communication means that team members will know which parts of the design process they are (and are not) included in, and misunderstandings will be avoided.

1. Get everyone on the same page from the start
Everyone should understand the goal(s) of the project, how information and suggestions are communicated, and the different ways that the client’s needs will be met. Also, if you see any eventual roadblocks, discuss them now instead of waiting.

Respectfully and clearly explain to the client that your team’s main goal is to find the best way to deliver a message and that if you come across feedback that prevents that from happening, you won’t be able to act on it. Also clarify that you’ll be collecting feedback from the audience. User testing is an excellent way to gain helpful feedback from the people who will be using the product.

2. Define team member roles
When each team member knows what their job is and what’s expected of them, they’re less likely to cross boundaries. While feedback from different team members, regardless of their role, will be considered, they’ll know that their suggestion may not be taken. You’ll also create a hierarchy when it comes to decision-making.

Every team should have a team manager who gathers feedback. The team manager also has the final say about what feedback is worthwhile and if it should be acted on now or later. Before presenting that feedback to the team, the manager will refine the feedback to be clear and actionable. To do all this, the team manager must have advanced design experience and in-depth knowledge of the product and market.

3. Create a process for providing feedback
Corral feedback so that it doesn’t come from too many places at once or threaten to take too much attention away from the project. Instead of letting anyone and everyone send an email or a Slack message when they have an idea, set designated times for sharing thoughts. There are many collaboration tools that let team members work and communicate in real-time. From there, the team manager will consider the feedback before taking action. Concerns that arise outside of designated times should be reported directly to the team manager.

4. Control the type of feedback that’s welcome and considered
Design teams need to work on behalf of the client and take their feedback to heart. However, professional designers are professionals for a reason, and they shouldn’t be required to compromise if it’s going to make the product inefficient. Steer what clients and team members provide feedback on, and manage expectations about what type of feedback will and will not be considered.

For example, product design should always align with the client’s guidelines and requirements. If a team member makes a suggestion that’s against the requirements, it will be immediately rejected. It can be harder to establish these boundaries with clients who are unfamiliar with the design process, which is where mockups, prototypes and wireframes come in handy. These tools can bridge the gap in communication, and the client will be able to see concepts that are difficult to explain.

5. Know how to present your design to the client
Avoid unhelpful client feedback by presenting the product to them in the most effective way. For example, if you put together a wireframe, the client will be able to see how the product functions. If you can, avoid presenting the client with several options. You know which design is best, and giving them too much to look at gives them control they shouldn’t have while making more work for you. If you’ve agreed to present options, present no more than three, and make it clear which one you think is strongest.

6. Regularly refer to the project’s parameters
To separate helpful feedback from unhelpful feedback, continually revisit the project’s goals and guidelines. Ask yourself, the client and the team questions like:

  • Does the design reflect the brand’s personality?
  • Is all of the necessary information included in the design?
  • Have we included any information that isn’t necessary and that’s complicating or cluttering the design?
  • Is this feedback coming from the individual’s personal preference or will it actually help meet the client’s objectives?

Wrapping Up

The products you make may be for your clients, but the work you put out is yours. It’s a reflection of your abilities and expertise, and you need it to be great to be successful. Clients hire designers for their expertise, and sometimes saying “no” to a client is doing what’s in their best interest, even if they don’t realize it yet.

Avoiding design by committee isn’t about ignoring the advice of everyone else involved in the project. It’s about collecting and deciphering that advice in a way that improves the project instead of muddles it. It’s also about relying on your expertise to guide you to make the best choices. Design teams should listen, consider and discuss feedback; make the decision that’s best for the project goal; and be ready to explain and defend that decision if questioned.


Read this and more articles here.  Artkenya uses the DIVI theme and page builder on some of our projects.

13 Impressive WordPress Stats Worth Bookmarking for Clients

WordPress powers one in every four websites you visit online. Huge, right? It’s safe to say WordPress is no longer just a blogging tool – it’s by far the most popular content management system online and we’ve got the numbers to back it up.

If you’ve ever had trouble convincing clients WordPress isn’t just for bloggers, here are 13 facts that proves its dominance – and are worth sharing at your next client meeting.

1. WordPress Powers 25.5% of the Web

WordPress’ remarkable growth isn’t slowing down any time soon. WordPress hit 20% usage just two years ago and if that trend is set to continue, we could see WordPress reach its next milestone, 30%, in 2017.

In October, 29.7% of all new sites used WordPress.

2. WordPress Powers 30.3% of the Top 1000 Websites

If you don’t think that figure is impressive, consider this: using a standard CMS is not very common among the top 1000 sites, and more than 90% of them are using custom solutions. That 30.3% has some weight behind it now, huh?

Drupal comes in second with 19.7% and Adobe Experience Manager this with 11.8%.

There's no questioning WordPress' dominance.
There’s no questioning WordPress’ dominance.

3. WordPress is the Most Popular CMS

Among the 300+ content management systems that web technology survey service W3Techs routinely monitors, WordPress dominates with a whopping 58.7% market share.

It’s worth noting that 57% of websites don’t use any identifiable CMS, so there’s still a lot of room for WordPress to further make its mark.

4. WordPress is the Fastest Growing CMS

Every 74 seconds a site within the top 10 million starts using WordPress. Compare this with Shopify, the second-fastest growing CMS, which gains a new site every 22 minutes.

5. WordPress Powers Some of the World’s Biggest Brands and Names

These include Sony, Microsoft, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, Mashable, TechCrunch, Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Samsung, Star Wars, PlayStation, General Motors, NFL, Bloomberg, MTV, Facebook, eBay, Google, LinkedIn, Flickr, NASA, and TED.

Then there’s Jay Z, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Kobe Bryant, The Rolling Stones, Malala Yousafzai, Sylvester Stallone, just to name a few.

WordPress.com’s VIP service hosts many of these brands and names. WordPress.org also showcases some of the Fortune 500 companies that use the CMS.

6. There Have Been 143 versions of WordPress to Date

This figure includes both major and minor (security, maintenance etc.) releases.

Volunteers all over the world contribute to the WordPress project, ensuring it is regularly and continually updated to improve both its functionality and security. WordPress 4.4 alone had 471 contributors.

The latest version, WordPress 4.4, has been downloaded more than 6.5 million times since it was released just three weeks ago.

7. WordPress is Available to Download in 57 Languages

WordPress can deliver your content to visitors worldwide in a variety of languages. If English isn’t your native tongue, you can download WordPress in Bengali, Danish, Esperanto, and Icelandic, just to name a few of the translations on offer.

If the language you prefer isn’t available, it probably will be soon – the WordPress translation team has almost finished translating the CMS into 12 other languages, with even more translations underway.

According to W3Techs, 37.3% of English language websites use WordPress, while usage numbers are between 38% and 40% for Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish sites, and they reach 51.3% for Bengali and 54.4% for Bosnian.

If the language you prefer isn’t available, it probably will be soon – the WordPress translation team has almost finished translating the CMS into 12 other languages, with even more translations underway.
If the language you prefer isn’t available, it probably will be soon – the WordPress translation team has almost finished translating the CMS into 12 other languages, with even more translations underway.

8. There Are 42,000+ Plugins for WordPress

And that’s just the plugins you can download for free. There are more than 100 premium plugins on our site, another 4000+ hosted over at CodeCanyon, any many developers release their own plugins for free on GitHub or on their personal websites.

With many thousands of plugins available, there’s no end to how you can extend and expand the functionality of WordPress.

9. Tuesday is the Most Popular Day for Downloading WordPress

According to WP Central, users are more likely to download WordPress on a Tuesday than any other day of the week. Saturday is the least popular day.

10. WordPress.com Gets More Monthly Visitors Than Apple

On average, WordPress.com receives visits from 35,910,572 people each month, compared to less than half that number, 16,837,476, at apple.com. To put it into perspective, that’s the population of Canada inundating WordPress.com monthly to start new blogs, write new posts, or visit existing sites.

11. WordPress Developers Earn $50 an Hour

In his 2012 State of the Word, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg revealed 6,800 self-employed people had built more than 170,000 sites personally, and charged a median hourly rate of $50. If each site took only 3 hours to make, that’s $29.5M of work at the average hourly rate. Combine that with data from the 2014 State of the Word, which showed a quarter of the people who filled in the annual WordPress Survey make a full-time living off the CMS.

Over at Quora, WordPress contributor Mark Jaquith puts the $50 figure into perspective, saying a “WordPress consultant” could be someone who can copy-paste some basic theme modification for $30-$60 an hour, to someone who can code a plugin from scratch ($80-$150 an hour), to high-end consulting on performance, security, scaling and deployment ($200+ an hour).

Freelancer, a popular outsourcing marketplace, lists 739,794 WordPress developers worldwide and reports 393,250 projects have been completed, worth $71,020,304.

Upwork lists “WordPress” as one of its top skills, with an average project cost of $194 and an average project duration of 5+ weeks.

According to SimplyHired, the average salary for “WordPress jobs” is $40,000.

12. 18 New WordPress Posts Every Second

In an average month, bloggers who use WordPress.com or have Jetpack installed on a self-hosted setup post 53.1 million new posts. That’s 1.7 million new posts every day, 71,000 every hour or about 1000 every minute.

All up, bloggers produce 43.5 million new comments each month.

Traffic-wise, more than 409 million people view more than 20.3 billion WordPress.com pages each month.

WordPress.com regularly publishes traffic stats.
WordPress.com regularly publishes traffic stats.

13. WordPress Takes Care of 80-90% of Google’s Crawling Issues

According to Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s web spam team, sites built with WordPress are capable of ranking higher in search results because the CMS takes care of 80-90% of Google’s crawling issues.

That’s most of the hard work done so you don’t have to worry about the small things and you can get on with creating quality content for your site.

Do you share any other WordPress stats and facts with clients? Have we missed any of your favourite stats? Let us know in the comments below.