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    I am working with another person to redo our parish website. We are supposed to work together on the design, but I find it rather hard to work creatively with others. So I suggested that we both put together our own mock-ups, critique each other’s designs, and then combine the things we like from each into one.

    I find out now that he is just beginning in web design. He finally sent his mock-up, and it looks very beginner-ish and out-dated. I do not want to let a "bad" design go live on the site, and I do not even know how to "merge" the designs. With him being a beginner, I’m not sure how to critique his design and give "my opinion" without putting him down. How would you approach this situation?


    Rob MacKay

    Unfortunately sometimes these things need to be said… especially if you want to control the look of your site… I think merging to separate designs is a bad idea – what would be good is sitting down and sketching out ideas together, then using your design program of choice and both do the design. I would let them hold the mouse too – you drive with your experience on how to use the software and they feel useful… etc…

    So what I would do is be honest, make sure you do it face to face with them and explain your reasons. Also pick up on all the details people starting out don’t ask – like how the user will interact with the site, how certain sections are going to work when translated into code etc etc…

    Then like I suggested above – do it together, that way you get the control and the ability to be constructive in regards to your friends skills rather than leaving them with a gaping hole where you ripped out their creative heart. When someone is critical of your work when you are new to receiving criticism can be very painful – so just take that into account and lead them through it.

    Not saying it’s gonna be easy though :D


    Rather than "merge the designs", as a way to pick the better of the two, you could suggest a blind test — get a few neutral people whose opinions you both respect (you say its for a parish, there should be plenty around who have an interest in the outcome) to look at the designs and offer their input as to which is the better one. That way it takes the personal out of the criticism if that’s what you’re worried about.

    (If/when his design loses, perhaps you could find an aspect of the parish where a micro site with a different look and feel would make sense and let him start over with reign of that part of it, and you do the main site)

    Honestly though, if he wants to be a designer on a professional level, he needs to learn that critique of his design does not mean "putting him down". You aren’t helping him in the long run either by pacifying him in order to be polite. The critique needs to be honest and helpful, of course, and needs to include the WHY you don’t like it and how it could be improved, but a huge part of being a designer is hearing "I don’t like this (or) this just isn’t working — please try something else." — and not taking it personally.

    Good luck

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