I was inspired today when a coworker of mine passed on this blog post, “American Airlines Web Site: The Product of a Self-Defeating Design Process”. To sum it up it’s about a designer, Dustin Curtis, who was absolutely disgusted by the American Airlines website. So much so that he redesigned it and send a public letter to AA expressing his disappointment. One of the Designers replied to Dustin’s letter saying “The problem with the design of AA.com, however, lies less in our design department and more with the culture and processes employed here at American Airlines”.
The post goes on to say that American Airlines website is over seen by at least 200 people. That is 200 people that have to sign off on a design, 200 people that have an opinion, and 200 people who need to review the design. You could imagine how even the most brilliant ideas or designs once filtered through 200 people would turn out… far from the original masterpiece.
Most companies are run similar to this, where there is a large group of decision makers the designer must go through to get to a final result. Truthfully the whole concept never made much sense to me. Designers are specially trained to do a specific job. We have an artistic eye and a gift for pleasing esthetics. I would never try to get a job as an accountant. I’ve not been trained as an accountant and working with number is the last thing I would want to do. So why do so many companies not trust the person they hired, who is specially trained, to do their job?
“Great design at places such as Apple isn’t about ’empowering decision makers’ or whatever that lame B-school buzzword is. It’s about awarding massive power and self-determination to those with the most cohesive vision–that is, the designers.”
This statement made me realize just how lucky I am. As the loan creative director for the company they have given me complete and utter control over every piece of material that is created under their brand. Of course, this IS my job, but it would be wrong to say I never realize how lucky I am, cause man, I know.
Micromanaging isn’t uncommon in any job and I’ve experienced it in other positions where my design concepts have been micromanaged and the end result was never as it should have been. The only thing I ever seemed to achieve was a frustrated and sour attitude and a crapy portfolio with “other people’s” vision.
Reading this article has really made me realize how much I truly love my job and how grateful I am to the people I work with for giving me the control and authority to be creative and push myself and my work. Although there are days I just want to sleep in, you can rest assured that the only day I will ever dread going to work is the day I hit a creative block.