Good/bad design – a response to a response

I got in this evening to find this in my Twitter feed:

Now, as regular readers will know I’m no stranger to a bit of polemic.
Nevertheless, read Mr Howells’ post first.

My response:

If web design is not the designer’s responsibility then what is a designer’s responsibility?

You say that “design” is too easily equated with “style” but then you equate responsibility for “navigation” and “content” with an information architect’s role. Something wrong there.

At the end of the day, even Gov.uk (which you think is great) has someone leading the effort and I can guarantee that person has a strong idea of what they want. Design-wise, IA-wise, editorially, technically and so on. Good design (and user experience) needs to be orchestrated.

Are you saying you’d rather not have that role? Well, then you’re wimping out, and you’ll be the “stylist” on many projects to come.

Antiquated CMS systems do not lead to badly-maintained websites. Bad design does.

So, as a designer, once you’ve finished your shiny visuals in the halcyon design phase of a project, you wander off to the next client, with your fingers crossed that all goes well. Then, 6 months later you return to the site to find that all is not well, and that your perfectly-realised designs are not being carried through. *Welcome to the real world!*

Design in the real world means design that works in the real world, operated by real people. If you’re not following your efforts through so that real people can use them, then you’ve only done half the job. If real people don’t understand your design or can’t fit their content into your design, then you’ve failed. If you can’t figure out how to train people to use a CMS, come on, this is child’s play!

I currently am responsible for a number of pretty well known travel websites that bring in hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue each year. None of them has a CMS.

A CMS doesn’t equal success with design or with content.

I look forward to your response.

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