Don't take it personal. Design goals trump personal preferences.

01.24.2014
Business goals should always trump personal preferences

When personal preferences from stakeholders and decision makers are implemented instead of strategically designed solutions, you can almost always guarantee that the end results will be less than desirable.

When trying to solve problems such as website design, branding, marketing, user interface or experience, design—A.K.A. business goals—should always overrule personal preferences.

Why should business goals always trump personal preferences?

All of the following reasons technically have "business" implications, but since we are a studio that focuses on brand image in everything we do, I'm going to break it down into two sections: business and brand implications.

It's business (implications) time.

Design goals are created to meet specific business requirements. This means that, as designers, we need to have a strong understanding of the business or organization and their target audience. When personal preferences from stakeholders and decision makers are implemented instead of strategically designed solutions, you can almost always guarantee that the end results will be less than desirable.

This can have the following business implications:

  • The solution does not appeal to target users.
  • Distraction from business goals making them difficult—if not impossible—to reach.
  • Stunt business, product, and/or community growth.
  • Limit sales by not reaching the right audience.

Hot or not? Brand implications.

Your brand image should be part of your business goals. But since branding is such an art, let's take a separate look at how personal preferences over design goals can harm your brand perception.

Bad Decision Making: Let's say you're designing for a company that celebrates children. The designer chooses a playful font for the typography (because one of the goals is to celebrate kids). But the president of the company doesn't like it because of the curlycues on each letter, so they insist you change it to Times New Roman because it's a "classic".

Now, instead of projecting the association with children and the youthfulness of the client's programs, it feels stuffy and "classic" (translated: old and boring).

What implications can poor design decisions have on your brand?

  • No cohesive brand image. Customers don't make the connection between your brand elements.
  • Increased design time and costs because of additional rounds of design so "I can just see what it looks like".
  • Customers perceive your organization as amateur and/or unprofessional
  • Your company does not stand out and is not memorable amongst a sea of competing brands
  • You end up with a mishmash collage of bad fonts, poor photography, and ineffective color palettes.

So how do you stop personal preferences from ruining a design/business goals?

It's not easy and may be impossible if the decision makers you're working with don't respect the designer, their rationale and recommendations. As creative people it is our job to explain our solutions and provide justification and rationale to clients. It is our job to educate them.

Remember that every choice made during the design process better have solid reasoning behind it that can be understood by everyone involved.