So @stop ( Doug Bowman, Creative Director at Twitter ) one of those designers and creative leaders I really look up to tweeted this out the other day.
“A deadline should not limit expectations of excellence. Rather, it defines the length of time you have to achieve excellence.”
And I (a little harshly I admit) tweeted back: “@stop Sorry, but that sounds like unrealistic management BS.”
His response: “@vanshea Initially, I thought of them working against each other. But ultimately, excellence can’t be compromised.”
And my response: “@stop Excellence ultimately defined by quality of deliverable, quality is subjective-this issue is a moving target w mgmt moving the target.”
I believe creative leaders should define “excellence”, not just demand good work, great work-the BEST work!! But to literally define what tangible execution accomplishes their idea of excellence.
As an example: While once reviewing an accomplished designer’s work, I gave this feedback:
“.. I love the main call to action button, but I’m not sure if our demographic will read it as a button quickly enough. My assumption is that they probably need a little bit of glossiness on a button for a quicker read. I know WE don’t like that treatment, but sadly we aren’t the primary audience.”
Eventually in this example, a more “buttony” button was made and it made sense to us. If creative leaders, me included, are trying to focus a team on producing “excellence”, it is up to us to clearly define our idea of excellence. Most importantly it is up to us to allow that idea also to be challenged. Creatives thrive on questioning authority and challenging The Rules. If there are tangible guidelines to work from, a structure is available to create against and/or rebel against or in the best case.. completely redefine!
In a recent visual design project I laid out some detailed ground rules for myself:
- Drop shadows only on photos of people, none around other content boxes
- Content boxes would stand out because of border color against background texture
- Most buttons would recede by adding same texture as the background then highlight by losing texture on mouse hover
- Uppercase titles would be used in substitution for a heading bar to ground the page