Rants and raves about software art & design, artsy fartsy style.
You're in a meeting, the designer in the room, the spotlight is on you and you're ready; locked and loaded with a design solution that is bullet-proof. You enthusiastically bust out mock-ups, your color theory argument, trends, and alternate ideas you've explored that ultimately didn't work; proving this is the way to go. You're passionate about the project, it is important to you. There's a weight on your shoulders, but you got this!
Then it happens. Midway through your case, someone's body language is telling that they want to interject their thought. That's fine, you welcome other ideas and want to be accommodating to other departments on the team (or at least you tell people that!). You soon realize as they speak that their suggestion is not an idea, it's a way to justify less work. "If we take out this" or "let's explore versions where we skip that". The conversation in the room shifts to how to do it the fast way. You throw your arms up in frustration and brace for a boring end-product that just works, like a sterile mechanical tool, not a product people will want. To add fuel to the fire, Mr./Ms. Big Boss makes their appearance (bitter much?), looks at about half the design, makes ill-thought out choices on "easy" things like names or random color choices to put their stamp on it. Then before leaving the room, mandates this new random idea because "it's easy". Ya know, 'cause everyone's a designer, and of course they sat down for a week connecting the dots to make sure it doesn't implode on itself. And of course that dark depressing color they picked out of thin air was purposely picked to accent your approachable tetradic color scheme. Yep.
The problem is, you're told you're responsible for the end-product. Told, not just by your co-workers, but by critics. It's so important all of the pieces fit together as a unified vision. You want to be a good designer that puts out useful and beautiful products, but it all gets derailed and it's frustrating. You start to wonder what your job even is. So why aren't we actually valued?
These situations shed light on the fact that, while most software companies hire designers, they are not always viewed as authoritative from beginning to end. Sure, they do some early on heavy lifting that no one else wants to touch. Or, the drab mundane work of thinking out a click-thru wireframe. But then, they are a hurdle or block to development. They are the "token designer". In these environments where the final word is decided by someone outside of the department, you find yourself in the lose-lose conundrum. Turns out bad: designers fault. Ends up good: designer was wrong.
I'm not saying design should be done in a total vacuum (at least, I know I'm not supposed to say that *nervous laugh*). Good designers often pull in programmers and others into conversations so that they can talk about feasibility and possibly more streamlined solutions that are better, but still part of the intended design. We understand that, in the end, you want a lot of eyes on a design to work out the kinks and make it better. Collaboration can be a great thing. However, allow the people you pay to craft something wonderful and see it ALL THE WAY through. Let them do their job. Trust them. Otherwise, you'll get Frankenstein; an abomination complete with bolts and band-aids to make sure it doesn't crumple under it's tacked on features.