Too many cooks

Why ‘design by committee’ websites can leave a bad taste in the mouth

It’s your kid’s birthday. It’s a big one too, their 13th, 18th or 21st even! You want to throw a big celebration and only the most epic celebration cake will do. Your cake requirements are in with a specialist cake company. The baker has a detailed brief and the date, place and time for delivery…

You then spend the next 3 days loitering around the kitchen. You suggest that they add some extra cocoa powder, because it “just doesn’t look chocolaty enough” and ask that they use butter icing, despite the 50:50 ratio of lactose intolerant guests expected. Then you bring in the relatives, to cast their equally inexperienced eyes over the decorating process, and spend the entire time making detrimental suggestions based on personal opinions. Come party time you and your ‘team’ have turned what promised to be a delicious and professional masterpiece into an inedible #nailedit disaster.

“What? That doesn’t happen!” I hear you say. It’s laughable right? Who would pay a professional for a service and then spend the entire time undermining their expertise!? Well this is exactly what web designers face daily. From uncomplimentary colour palettes to requests to “make the logo bigger” web designers face a barrage of critique, despite being sort out for their proficiency in their field. Of course, it is to be expected that there may be some minor tweaking required; but if the designer has reduced the volume of copy, or made your logo smaller than expected, then seek to understand the rationale behind the decision rather than demand it be changed. There will be a reason behind all creative choices that have been made, and they will be in favour of your business’ objectives.

Designing your website is much like sorting the cake for that special occasion. The likelihood is you will go down one of four routes:

Route 1 – “There’s already so much food, we won’t need cake”

As a business, maybe you feel that you are already offering so much to your potential customers that a website feels somewhat unnecessary. You may have a strong social media presence or thrive on word of mouth, maybe you even have a business premises. You have so many other areas of interest that investing in web design feels almost redundant. Why would anyone want a slice of cake when there is ice cream and pizza? That said, can you even trust it’s really a party without cake?!

Route 2 – “I’ll nip to the shop and grab a cake off the shelf”

Maybe you do want a website, and can appreciate the value it can add, but you feel it would be more cost effective and time saving to buy a generic template and just “stick a few sprinkles and a candle” on it. Adding content to a ready-made template will do the job. However, much like your shop bought cake, there are hundreds of other identical sites out there, and they never taste quite as nice as when they are made fresh.

Route 3 – “I’m not the worst baker, I’ll take a crack at it myself”

This can be risky. It’s the night before the party and you are slaving in a hot and messy kitchen, you’ve ran out of icing sugar and only have 12 out of 13 candles. You may produce a masterpiece, or you may produce a disaster, and it could potentially be too late to do much about it. It will be out there with an audience, who can’t tell what it was meant to be, can’t cut an even slice, or worse, can’t even digest it at all!

You may get lucky and your skills will prevail but unless you have some level of existing expertise the results will always be novice. Is that the standard you want for your business? Everyone respects a trier but even the hardest attempt is wasted if you are unable to eat it right? When deciding to have a go at building your own website take a minute to consider your consumer and evaluate whether the result is something you would be happy to be served. If the answer is no then we recommend route four…

Route 4 – “I’ll hire a professional cake decorator; I want this done right”

As a professional web and graphic design company we obviously encourage you to explore route four. Yes, it will cost you a little more initially, but the results are guaranteed. They work to the deadline and have the site ready for when it’s needed. Just like with your pre-ordered cake the pressure is off you completely and the responsibility, for what will undeniably be the crowning centerpiece of your party, lies in the hands of a professional who will work to your brief.

So, if you are going to pay for a professional website then by all means, share your thoughts, have an idea in mind and be thorough when you brief in what you need. Have a preferred theme, a ‘favourite flavour’ or even some examples of what you are picturing. But when things get cooking, stay out the kitchen and trust that the results will be delicious!