10 reasons why even experienced designers commit design hara-kiri

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You expect experienced web designers to know what they are doing and come up with sites that work for their target users. But, the golden rule of hiring only experienced web designers to work on design projects to assure yourselves of high quality conversion friendly websites has its flaws. There are times when web designers who’ve been in the business of designing websites for a number of years, make huge designing errors. Their experience doesn’t prevent them from making mistakes that take down the quality of their design a few notches.

To be fair to them, these designers don’t realize they are making these mistakes. They believe they are making the right designing choices that cater to precise client requirements. But, the harsh truth is that’s not really what is happening. They make mistakes that at times even amateurs wouldn’t make. Surprised? Don’t be!

Let’s just take a closer look at these mistakes and see whether such mistakes being made by these “experienced” professionals.

They “think” they understand the client’s needs better than the client

Think about if for a second. If you’ve decided to order a pizza at a restaurant, wouldn’t you know better about the kind of pizza you want to order? The restaurant attendant will help you zero in on the right pizza, but you get to decide the order. Now think of a situation, where you enter a restaurant, you talk to the attendant about the kind of pizza you want; he nods his head, but proceeds to get you a pizza that he thinks you want, but it’s actually not what you wanted at all. He thought he knew better than you… end result: you’re not happy.

This is really what happens when some experienced designers think they know better than the client and come up with designs that are far from client oriented. Yes, a designer can be more technically astute and aesthetically inclined than the client, but he/she must collaborate with the client to come up with the kind of design that is perfect for the client’s needs. It mustn’t be their own design trip, they must take the client along with them as well.

They do not give due importance to research

Experienced designers have tackled numerous projects pertinent to a particular domain. So, there might be a designer who’s worked on numerous legal websites or real estate websites etc. In such cases, they might take their expertise and knowledge of the particular niche for granted. So, if they have designed numerous legal websites, and are working on yet another legal website design project, they might not assign the necessary time required for research. This research is important if you want to come up with a site that is trendy and meets the specific needs of a client’s target audience. Lack of focused research can lead to wrong designing choices, the kind of choices that will make the site look like the many legal websites they have designed before. Such website design doesn’t work for anybody, neither the client nor the target users and if truth be told, it doesn’t work for the designer either.

They prefer “not” to get inspired

Some designers believe their experience means they don’t need to get inspired from all the sources they did earlier. There is really nothing they don’t know, and while this might be true, the fact is, the world of web design is evolving all the time. What’s more, there are people coming up with unique, breakthrough designs all the time. Getting inspiration from such brilliantly designed websites is an absolute must if you want to come up with something new all the time. Otherwise, you will create design that you feel is interesting and unique, but it actually isn’t.; somebody, somewhere has actually come up with the design before you.

They do not take kindly to critical feedback

Some experienced designers just scare clients into submission with their uppity behavior. These designers don’t like clients offering suggestions, much less feedback. They believe they are the sole authority that can actually take designing decisions. In this particular case they forget, there are three key stakeholders of all design projects – Client, Designer and User. The views, suggestions, and opinions of all three are crucial if you want to come up with a successful design project. A designer who doesn’t take feedback in the right spirit, or doesn’t consider implementing the feedback received might not be able to rectify the mistakes in the design.

They do not put themselves in the shoes of the user

Experienced designers think they are well aware of users’ needs and don’t really need to put themselves in the users’ shoes every single time they design a new project. This is again an error of judgment because the needs of the users change all the time. Further, a new project means a new audience, which means new user driven challenges. You can’t really claim to know the user of a particular product until and unless you put yourself in the user’s shoes every single time you design a new product. Website designers, whatever their levels of experience, need to think of every new project as different from the other, with a different set of users.

Their design process is like an assembly line

Experienced designers are usually busy designers and many of them fall into the trap of following a design process that looks like assembly line production, which isn’t really a good idea if you want new ideas to come through and be implemented in website designs. The fact is, these designers are short of time and have the pressure of client deadlines playing on them all the time. They don’t have the luxury of spending time on a particular project just to come up with a unique concept.

“Show me the money”

A minuscule number of experienced web designers are more concerned about where their money is coming from and their business’s ROI. Yes, from web designers they become more of businessmen, which essentially means, their creativity takes a beating. In fact, their attitude is, “I need to get this project out of the way as soon as possible, so I can take care of another one quickly.” As can be imagined, this attitude doesn’t make for reliable designing choices.

Delegating responsibility to inexperienced, incompetent web designers

This mistake is a recipe for disaster. There are two big problems here. Clients hire experienced designers to handle their projects, because of the visual and technical complexities related to their project. They believe only experienced designers can handle their projects. If the experienced designer hired by the client chooses to pass on the responsibilities to inexperienced designers or those without the required skill sets to handle the project, he is not being honest and is actually taking the client for a ride. This is the first problem. The second problem occurs when the designer delegates project responsibility, but doesn’t discuss the client requirement thoroughly with the concerned designers and doesn’t track and evaluate project progress every step of the way.

The question here is, why take up a project if you can’t handle it yourself? The mark of a true professional is somebody who doesn’t make false promises. If a designer cannot play a personal role on a particular design project, he/she needs to convey the same to the client. They mustn’t keep the client in the dark about who’s been assigned responsibility of the project.

Trying too hard to create websites that are the Next Big Thing

Experience does put truckloads of pressure on you as far as expectations are concerned. A client hiring experienced designers and developers is paying top dollar for this experience and therefore expects only the best from them. This puts a lot of pressure on these professionals, to come up with designs that are really very, very good. But, coming up with good designs and putting pressure on yourself to come up with really extraordinary designs are two different things. Sometimes experienced designers, in their quest to come up with something really exceptional, end up creating websites that are neither here nor there. Such websites look like they have been built for the sole purpose of showcasing the designer’s abilities. Nobody, really can make sense of the design, other than the designer. The website looks like the designer’s flight of fancy. Those trying too hard to come up with great designs might just end up creating websites that don’t make any impression whatsoever.

They live too far back in the past

One of the ways you can identify experienced designers is the series of successful projects they have worked on. But, the best designers are those who prefer not to rest on their laurels and come up with effective and interesting designs all the time. They keep their past conquests in a place that is best suited for them, which is the past. But they learn from the mistakes they made in their past projects and put this learning into practice on their current projects.

But, there are exceptions to the norm; these are the kind of designers who are so consumed by their past glories that they continue to not just live in the past but revel in it. This means they aren’t willing to try out new designing approaches. Just because certain designing decisions worked for them in the past, they end up taking the same decisions in the present. They have no eye on the future or how the world of web design has changed since the last time they came up with a successful website.

Bonus: They’ve lost their touch

Creative people face this problem all the time. They suddenly seem to lose their touch in terms of the creative choices that work, and the ones that don’t. This is more than just a creative block. This is a far bigger problem than just lack of creativity. It is about not knowing about the latest trends in web design, having very little knowledge about the latest technology that is making waves and getting caught in a vicious cycle of picking the wrong concept for a particular project.

In such cases, designers need to take a step back, take stock of the situation and identify their problem areas. They need to talk to their friends, family members and even associates to come up with reasons for their lack of creativity and their inability to come up with successful designs. If they can afford not take up client projects for some time, they should just give themselves sometime to think things over. Maybe a long holiday can rev up their creative juices, maybe something else can. Sometimes, it’s the time spent away from work that allows people to rediscover their lost touch.

To Conclude

Everybody makes mistakes, that’s a given, but few people are given less leeway to make mistakes as compared to others – a case in point is experienced website designers. The mistakes in this article are the ones that such designers can well avoid, and are not something that one would expect from people who are really very serious about their craft and want to do well in the web design domain. These are attitude errors that in the long run impact the quality of the designs and ideas that such website designers are able to come up with.

All it requires for experienced designers to correct these mistakes is not let their experience get in the way of improving their knowledge and skill sets. If they allow their experience to make them stagnant as far as conceptualization, skill-sets and knowledge is concerned, they will keep coming up with sub-standard designs that won’t be appreciated by their users. This means their reputation will suffer, and over time, potential clients will just disappear from the scene.

As designers, experience is the single most important advantage that you bring to the table. Don’t allow this benefit to become a problem for you. You can do this by avoiding the mistakes given in this article.

Author bio: Abhishek Agarwal is Director of Business Development at Rightway Solution, which develops great iOS apps. He is also an expert on ecommerce stores and shopping carts. Catch him on Twitter at @righwayindia.

Catalin is the founder of Mostash – a social marketing boutique – and he’s always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.