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I am building a website for a student organization. Although I'm a novice at graphic design, I can do basic sites (bootstrap is a lifesaver) and am moreso of a pro when it comes to development.

The problem comes, however, where everyone in the group has an equal say-so on the design. I would like to know the best way to approach this because I don't know what's common in the design world.

Should I have them delegate one person to be the voice and just work with that person? Or, take all of their suggestions into account and come up with something I think will work. I am leaning towards the first option because I know from experience trying to please everyone often results in pleasing no one.

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5 Answers 5

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Morning @MDMoore! First off I'd like to apologize knowing first hand it is a bear to have multiple people's input on a design process. Your first idea, have one primary contact is a great idea and I would definitely go this route but knowing first hand when multiple people have a say it can still back fire down the road.

That said I would require one primary contact and force one primary contact for any changes and do the best you can because it will make the others mad when they try to call you with "can you change this for me please".

The other backfire I learned was that a primary can do what they want and it will be your fault to the others if they are not aware of what is going on. The solution I found with this is the primary must get written sign-off on the proofs and phases of the design.

Best of luck to you.

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Thank you for confirming this! –  BigHomie Apr 12 '13 at 14:10
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Written sign-off: great idea. Make the primary the person who manages the group. You are a designer. Your job is not to manage your client's team. –  Lauren Ipsum Apr 12 '13 at 21:58

Theres really no way to answer this specifically. It all depends upon the dynamic. But in general here's how I handle "committee" assignments.....

It's a given with most designers that "design by committee" is no fun. However, input from a committee is much better than input from a single individual. As a designer I find that having as much input from every source which will be reviewing my work is most helpful. I would hesitate to lock out all voices in favor of one. I often sit in on meetings to simply listen to everyone even if there's no direct design related input. I've sat through three-way phone conferences and listen to people argue about things just to gain insight into company dynamics. Basically, I try and soak up as much input as possible. By eliminating all those voices you eliminate some possible insight which may be helpful to the design processes.

I would suggest being a part of the committee meetings in the initial stages so you can hear everyone's ideas or thoughts. If you stick to one voice, it's most likely you'll miss something. And what you miss may the one thing which sparks a winning idea.

Take all that committee input and work up preliminaries. Present preliminaries to the committee and get feedback.

Then, from that point, eliminate the committee in favor of one voice. You'll have all the input which will be valuable by this point. Any committee input from this point forward will simply be disagreements within the committee and it is their issue to sort those out. Have them designate one individual for final approval. Then deal with that person from that point forward.

Essentially... A committee is excellent for initial stages. A committee is unworkable for final approval.

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+1 for the last line. Committees = great for brainstorming, terrible for implementation. –  DA01 Apr 12 '13 at 20:33

A few suggestions:

  • your first idea is excellent. Have them elect a single point of contact for you.
  • have them prioritize all requests. That gives everyone a chance to have their say, but also requires them to think pragmatically and really decide what is critical vs. what is just nice to have.
  • sell HARD. You need to come to the meetings where you present prepared. Have reasons for your solution and be confident when you explain the decisions you made. That can head off a lot of stray comments from the start.
  • push them to tie their opinions to business objectives. Saying "I like pink better" is useless feedback. Saying "I think pink is a better solution given the particular demographic we're targetting" is a lot better.
  • always present in person and, if you can, collect feedback in person. That helps prevent the long 'me too' lists that can be common when soliciting feedback via email and such. It also forces everyone to share their opinion as a group, which can often lead to quick discussions where it becomes a lot easier to figure out what is useful feedback vs. not so useful.
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Have you tried running a design charrette? This works really well in situations where the design process is very egalitarian/democratic.

Here's an article to get you started: http://mblongii.com/collaborative-sketching

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about running a charrette.

Good Luck!

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theres also a concept called modular based design as we do in programming. whole design of site can be separated into modules and assign the different mudules to each individual. its like a new concept. but the great team work can make its result outstanding. and yes Committees = great for brainstorming, terrible for implementation.

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You haven't answered the question except by repeating someone else's answer at the end of yours. Modular design is for teams of designers/developers not an ordinary group of clients. –  user Apr 6 at 13:54

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