Passion for design on large websites

June 16, 2008


I’ve written a few posts about the issues that arise, and things that can be learned, through spending one’s time working on a very large website.

One of the most significant issues that I have not yet mentioned is passion for design. A good web designer is an artist. An artist needs to have passion, or as far as I’m concerned she is no longer an artist. That passion will lead a web designer to be concerned that her designs are of the highest quality, that she is aware of current technologies, current trends (both so that her designs are not out of date, and so that she can continue to push or go against those trends), current issues and advancements, and so on.

One of the things I have learned about working on a very large website is that it can be difficult to maintain a passion for design. Many large websites have decision-makers that don’t care about design at all, and are in charge of deciding how websites look, how they function, and what kind of changes or additions get approved. Many other large websites have lots of people that care about design, but they may be on different skill and competency levels, or have different levels of authority, or simply have clashing tastes.

When these kind of issues arise, a web designer that is passionate about his art can run into various roadblocks that can prevent work of the highest quality. Subjective decisions may be passed down from superiors, or financial decisions may prevent certain things from happening, or technological decisions may prevent other things from happening.

When any of these things happen, a designer can find it difficult to maintain that passion. It can get easier to give up on important issues, or feel like design does not get the importance it deserves, or any number of other emotional and mental issues may arise.

I’m aware that this also happens outside of large websites, and have experienced it there. I believe, though, that it is a different issue on large websites because these designers don’t get another client the next week, or the next month, or the next quarter. What kind of solutions can maintain this passion on the same website, month after month, decision after decision?