I cringe every time it happens:
A client contacts you for work, you settle on payment, timing, and all the other important details, you work hard to get them a preliminary design and then it happens.
Their response? “I have to show it to a group of people here and then I’ll get back to you.”
‘Design by committee’ is one of the most frustrating and annoying aspects of being a designer because opinions can range widely within even the smallest of groups and, usually, clients give way to personal preference instead of logical business, marketing, or design principles.
So how do you deal with ‘design by committee’? Today, I’d like to offer a few tips. If you’ve had any experience with this sort of thing, I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments.
Don’t avoid the topic
If you’re pretty certain design by committee is going to happen with any given project, don’t avoid talking with your client about it. The best way to deal with design by committee is to bring it up before you get too far into the project. Usually, clients will understand and appreciate your concern.
Once, I client said to me “Well, it doesn’t matter what looks good or works well, whatever my boss wants changed you have to change. No questions asked.”
I had the courage to drop that client.
Appoint a committee filter
Your best friend during the design process will become whoever is responsible for filtering feedback. Work with your client at the beginning of your project to appoint someone to filter committee feedback.
Not all feedback is good. Make sure someone with a little bit of power and influence has the ability to veto or filter suggestions that are unimportant, irrelevant, or not needed. This will save you time and pain.
Take feedback with a grain of salt
Even with someone filtering feedback, you should always take suggestions with a grain of salt. Meaning, you should use your judgement in deciding what feedback to implement 100% and which ones to work around.
If a client tells you the fonts need a bevel and a drop shadow so that they pop more, dig until you find the root of the problem: in this case, low contrast. Try making your font bigger with higher color and hue contrast before just slapping a bevel and shadow effect on it.
How do you handle ‘design by committee’?
If you’ve had any experience with ‘design by committee’, leave a comment here and tell us how you overcome it. We’d love to learn from you.