As my colleague John Randle wrote in an earlier post, “design by committee” is a feared term for any agency. In fact, if you Google the term the first several posts rendered are:
- Why Design by Committee Should Die
- Why Design by Committee Fails
- Death to Design by Committee
The reason these articles exist is because the approach often represents a failed process that leads to what John would call a “Frankenstein solution.” I’m not here to explore process though, as John covered that in his post. Instead, my objective is to explore the importance of a web committee. That’s right. Me, an “agency guy” is going to talk about the importance of a web committee.
Why Web Committees Often Exist
From our standpoint, when going through web builds with a client, or any design project for that matter, we often see the client committee existing for two primary reasons:
- The firm is large and has many key stakeholders whose opinions need to be factored into the final output.
- The marketing department is slim and often lacks a leader who has the authority to make final decisions. And therefore a committee is established to spread the authority over a group.
The second reason is the fear factor and a culture issue I can’t address. If a firm has someone they’ve directed to lead an initiative but pulls all authority from them and puts it in the hands of a committee, then you’re back to the point at the beginning of my post of “death to design by committee” and likely heading for the “Frankenstein solution.” However, the first reason is what we can explore deeper.
Why Committees Should Exist
Though the first reason committees often exist is a step in the right direction, it’s actually backwards in its thinking. A website should not be a representation of opinions from the leaders of an organization.
A proper committee should be a representation of all voices in the company – from junior staff members to leadership personnel.
If you think about your website and everything you want it to do, this list likely will include selling, prospecting, qualifying, educating, and recruiting. It should also be current with today’s trends. A proper web committee should be assembled with all of these agendas in mind. The committee should include everyone from your up-and-coming millennials to established leaders who have a pulse on where the company is going and where it has been.
How to Structure Your Committee
At a high-level your committee should be no more than 5-10 people, depending on the size of your organization, and represent a mix of the following people:
- 1-2 Leader’s of the Business
- 2-3 People from Marketing & Sales
- 1-2 Service Line Manager’s
- 1-2 HR Representatives
- 1-2 Junior “Up and Comers”
- 1 (could be from the group above) Committee Leader who is trusted by the company and has the authority to filter opinion and make a final decision on behalf of the company. It’s often someone from Marketing or in a Leadership position.
Think of your committee like a governmental committee. It should be your team of advisors who are meant to provide well-informed opinion and perspective to allow the committee lead to make the best-educated decisions. It’s important to remember that decisions, questions, and feedback come from one person (the lead) and it needs to be trusted by all committee members. If the committee starts to become a group whose agenda is to provide the agency a vast collection of feedback, and the commitee lead starts to just aggregate all of that to pass along for the agency to filter, interpret and implement on their own, then yes, “death to design by committee.”