DesignNews

Design excuses and how to beat them

Overcome negative thinking and you’ll achieve your dreams. Si Jobling covers the more common design excuses and how to combat them

This article first appeared in issue 226 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

Have you found yourself with a back log of ideas you want to build but constantly use excuses to avoid them? Here are the top five excuses getting in your way and how you can overcome them ...

1  “It’s been done before!”

How many times have you had an idea then Googled it to find someone else has already made it? Don’t let that put you off. Facebook shares elements with MySpace’s social network model and look how that turned out.

Find the faults in the existing version and think of workable solutions. Look at some of the popular features then think about how they can be improved. Often the smallest tweak can vastly improve functionality.

The existing solutions may also have other ideas on their roadmap. Services such as Get Satisfaction and User Voice are great platforms for crowd-sourced feature requests. Take these suggestions, give them your own touch and integrate. This will give you extra leverage to beat the competition.

2  “I haven’t got the time!”

If you’re struggling to find the time, take this sage advice from the 90s rapper Vanilla Ice: “Stop, collaborate and listen!” We’re lucky to work in an industry where there’s an active community waiting to get involved – so use it.

Find their strengths. You might already have identified a specific talent so why not ask them to contribute their skills? It would be a great opportunity to learn from them plus those volunteers are likely to learn a few things off you.

There are numerous project management tools on the market that will allow you to collaborate online. My current favourite is Project Pier – an open source application for managing multiple projects.

3  “There’s too much to do!”

You might fret that the project will snowball into unexpected measures once you get started it, but don’t let that put you off. Remember the KISS principle: “Keep it Simple, Stupid”.
Find your niche. Identify the most important purpose of your website and stick to it.

Don’t digress. Make sure you set realistic goals. It’s easy to define over-ambitious targets but you can never allow for those horrendous cross-browser bugs later.

4  “I don’t know where to start!”

More often than not, someone out there has had a similar problem to you. Thankfully, we live in a vocal community where code is shared liberally. Before you start, have a look at available frameworks to aid your development.

There are a number of design toolkits to establish some common design patterns. Layout toolkits such as the 960 Grid System and frontend templates such as HTML5 Boilerplate can really speed up the design process, as well as introduce you to new techniques.

Resources such as Github are goldmines. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been looking for a solution and forked some code from another generous individual.

Why reinvent the wheel? If your project takes off, you can refactor then. Your time is justified now.

5  “But nobody will use it!”

‘Build it and they will come’ – unfortunately, this is often not the case. You’ve put days of work into your project but unless it gets seen, what’s the point?

Think about a unique angle to promote your product. Are there any cheeky approaches you can use to sell the site? Try to think about the audience. For example, if you’re predominantly targeting geeks, speak their language -– add some cats. Viral campaigns are invaluable if done right.

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