A user in total control is a designer’s nightmare

In an outstanding piece on Smashing Magazine, Matej Latin discusses balancing options versus decisions for product design. WordPress gets nice marks in the blog post for making smart decisions, thankfully.

I like the usage of various applications as examples — from blogging platforms to presentation software — but this bit on being authoritative as a designers stood out:

Every designer has been there: working on a project for an enthusiastic client who has a lot of crazy ideas for features. It’s a tough position to be in. Perhaps this client will take your career to a new level. If so, do you have to do whatever they say? How do you convince them that starting simply is best, that fewer choices is better than many?

  • Cultivate a relationship based on respect and your authority as the designer.They are paying you for your knowledge and experience, so let yourself be heard. The designer’s job is not to say yes to every crazy idea. If you’re not afraid to say no, then they won’t see you as their puppet. Tell them that you’re a designer, not a pixel pusher. Believe me, it works.
  • Back up your arguments and advice with examples.Show them examples of simple products that people love. Explain to them why they work and why people love them so much. The products don’t have to be related to theirs — you just have to prove your point.
  • Remind them that simpler is less expensive.Explain to them that starting with a simple product means lower costs and a more flexible foundation on which to build. If they realize later that they’ve completely failed to define their product, then restarting will be easier — and more cost-efficient, too.