You can't design around making decisions

How many times have you heard statements like:

“This app should be for beginners and pros….”

“I want the site to be simple, but have a lot of advanced features….”

“Our app should have everything in one place, but not be intimidating to the user…”

After nearly 10 years of doing digital design, one of the things that has really stood out for me is that great digital design does not absolve us of making decisions..

I think the main reason this attitude of not having to make decisions has to do with the digital realm and the perception that it has no limits. This is why clients think an application can be for “beginners” and for “pros”… That a screen can have “tons of info” and “be simple to read”.

The physical world has tons of constraints that we are all familiar with. If you went to Boeing and said, “build me a jet that does Mach 3, lands on a helipad and carries 400 passengers”, after they stopped laughing they would politely decline the request and tell you that Airbus can do it.

But I get the digital equivalent of that request all the time.

The old saying, “If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one..” completely applies to digital design. You need to understand who you are designing for, put some stakes in the ground, make decisions, and move forward. Good design does not mean you get to do everything. Actually, good design is quite the contrary. Even if you have the time and budget to try to do everything, in the end you’ll end up with mediocrity. So keep your eye on the ball, make your call, and if you’re wrong cut your losses and try again.