On Skinning Cats

Very few problems can be solved in exactly one way. By “skinning” I mean “styling” and by “cats” I mean “websites”. Clearly, every problem can have more than one solution. Few places is this more true than with web design. Sure, there can be a best practice workflow. Or, an information architect can engineer the most efficient layout. But, the creative bits, where the brand starts to enter into it can always be solved many ways. So my advice to designers is… keep that bit to yourself.

If you are like I was, when you are dealing with a client, the first thing you do is pitch about 3 designs. The one you like, the one you think they want (that you are less in love with) and something else quite different as a hail mary.

Now the problem of alacart web design begins. Where the client likes the color pallet of one, with the navigation of another and images from a third (and could you make the logo bigger). In the end what you can have, if you’re not careful, is a frankenstien of committee approved “design”. where the whole is less than the sum of all parts.

Solution. Just pitch the pick of the litter. If you don’t think they will like your favorite design… think about why. Is it because the client’s subjectivity will tend a different way or because the solution is not appropriate for the target audience? Why is it your favorite? Again is it your subjectivity… or do you realize it is the most appropriate for the target audience. Now that you have evaluated the design as objectively as you can… defend it. In theory you were selected because you are some sort of professional. Your client should appreciate your ability.