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The Cost of "Design By Client"

1 min read

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"Can we add a video here? What do you think of an image slider over here? Can we animate that?"

Business owners have opinions, often strong ones, about what makes a good website. What happens when they're wrong?

In design, particularly web design, expertise is openly and frequently questioned by the client. Best practices may be set aside in favour of client preference. This is not the case for other industries. Auto mechanics diagnose and fix a problem — they don't fix whatever the car owner thinks is wrong.

Design is art with a job. That means design has to accomplish something. You can objectively measure the success of a design — it either improves outcomes, or it doesn't.

Web design is even more measurable across other dimensions. That video you want on your homepage might double or triple the load time on your website. Your load times influence your SEO rankings, your advertising performance, and your customer experience. Are you sure the video helps more than it harms?

We frequently encounter the consequences of 'design by client'. Slow websites. Half-baked features and awkward layouts hacked together on a whim instead of strategically assembled. These are self-inflicted wounds that hamper the ultimate objectives of the project the client hired the designer to do.

Designers want their clients to be happy. That makes it hard to say no to well-meaning revisions and requests. But say no, we must: yes-man behaviour leads to short-term happiness and long-term suffering in the form of redesigns, modifications, and fixes.

These are the goals we have as designers: to make your business better. Ultimately, we want you to be happy. Help us help you!

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