Why web design committees are so tough

I’ve been part of a process of redesigning the Poughkeepsie Farm Project website, both visually and functionally since about March.  It’s a group effort, with a good number of people from the PFP, all of whom expressed interest at the PFP annual leadership kickoff.  Last night we did our first review of the graphic designs that were graciously done pro bono for the project.

It amazed me a bit how varied the feedback was.  On most points there were people that had absolutely opposite opinions, and who agreed or disagreed with a point varied over ever detail discussed.  It was spiritted but friendly.  After about an hour of discussion we boiled it down to a base design, plus 6 concrete pieces of feedback that everyone wanted to see integrated.

I was thinking about why there was so many differences of opinion, and I realized web design committees are so tough because our interactions with the web are so personal.  Browsing the web is a solitary experience.  Everyone forms their opinions of what is good and bad in a vacuum, not influenced by others.  This leads to opinions on good vs. bad designs that vary drastically.  Page width/height issues, rotating content/or not, colors that are good or bad, what makes a good logo, how busy should things be, how often should things change.

Every one of us has some strong opinions in those areas due to what each of us use the internet for.  That diversity of purpose is what makes the web as ubiquitous as it is, but it definitely makes the design process challenging, because we all tend to believe the rest of the world uses the internet the way we do.  Which, ironically, is the only demonstrably false opinion that arises during the process.

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