Steve Fenton

Disband the Committee and break established rules

When you have a tough design choice to make, it is common for the ideas to be bounced around within an informal committee. This causes a premature convergent stage in the design, where each committee member adds to the shopping list of requirements, or to the banned list of what cannot be done. Good user experience doesn’t come from a committee and it certainly doesn’t come from narrowing choices before a divergent phase has been used to generate more options.

If you try to create a good user experience, but try to satisfy everything on the shopping list, whilst avoiding everything on the banned list, you end up with a poor compromise between competing demands. Instead of doing this, you need to stack rank all of the must-haves and mustn’t-haves, eliminate any that don’t have a concrete case, and be prepared to ignore those that aren’t at the top of the list.

In photography there are a number of well accepted rules – but there is also a well known pattern of rule-breaking. The rule-breaking is successful because you choose which rule to break, and which ones to keep – and then you break the selected rule a lot.

It is often better to completely break a “rule”, rather than be caught compromising between two of them.

Written by Steve Fenton on