Dealing with Design Subjectivity - Part 1 - Radiant

The Radiant Blog

Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg

Graphic design is an art and like any art, there is a subjective element to it - I like blue while you might like yellow or green.

The challenge that this presents to many organizations is that decision-making is almost always done by a group of individuals and the bigger the group, the more diverse the subjective preferences.

This reality almost always translates into a design that tries to appeal to all groups at the expense of the goals of the piece. At its worst, this problem can bring the process to its knees as the design attempts to appeal to everyone while actually appealing to no one.

So, how do you decide on which color, layout or font to use for your brochure, website or billboard? The answer is two-fold. We’ll deal with the first in this post and the other tomorrow.

The first step in dealing with subjectivity in decision-making is to establish an effective hierarchy of decision-making. I feel for the individual that has to corral the opinions of many people and break it down into meaningful feedback for a designer or design firm.

Most often however, this is exactly the case and we also find that the individual running the project has not truly been given the ability to make a decision. That’s the difference between an effective and a non-effective hierarchy of decision-making.

If the person running the project doesn’t have both a clear structure to receive feedback and the actual ability to make a final decision with the full confidence of the organization, the chance that the project will fail in its goals is significantly higher.

Pick a person to lead the project and then endow that individual with the power to actually run the project – it’s the groundwork of success.

Tomorrow we’ll deal with giving that person the tools to ensure the design meets the goals.