Never listen to your boss.
We all know it happens.
The boss of the business is, after all, the guy ultimately paying for, or responsible for the company's new website, marketing campaign or brochure.
He lives and breathes the business, he knows it intimately, he knows the customers and what makes them tick. He's therefore, surely, best placed to have the final say on the font choice of your new website or the colour of that new banner, yes? He must, surely, be right that all 17 sections of the website are equally important and need to fit in that first tier of navigation. He knows something we all don't. Clearly.
Ignore the subjective
Anyone who works in marketing, design or web development recognises this problem. Decision makers - whether your bosses or your clients - are subjective beasts whether they like to admit it or not.
If you want your redesign or campaign to go well though you need to be entirely and exclusively objective in your decision making process - however difficult that might seem.
The objective process
Over the next few of weeks I'll be describing some of the planning processes my team at Deep Blue Sky use to help its clients reach objective decisions. If you'd like me to send you that article when it comes out please just let me know. In the meantime here are a two simple tips to get you started:
Prioritise all the things
Make a note of everything that comes up in discussion when planning a new project. Then as a team, up on a whiteboard and with your decision makers in the room; score everything. A simple score of 1-10 is fine but make sure you assign specific scores for specific things like 'importance to the business', 'importance to the customer', 'cost/viability' etc. Tot each score up for a total for each item.
What you're trying to build is a clear, open list of objective priorities to stop any departmental arguing in its tracks. What we're looking for here is clarity of purpose.
Test all the things
Next, you need to admit that you don't have the answers and nor does the rest of the team.
3rd party testing of websites particularly is trivial these days and exceedingly cost effective. Check out sites like TryMyUI where, for a few dollars, you can have a couple of randoms work through your site and provide you with a detailed, comprehensible report of where your current site does and doesn't work.
What we're trying to achieve here is to gain an independent insight into how your customers see your business and your current marketing material - in this example; your website.
Testing amongst your peers is not helpful. Don't do it. All it does is help to reinforce those subjective misrepresentations that you're trying to get away from!
More tips? Your tips?
These are just two of the things my team does to ensure objective decision-making from our clients. As I say I've more of these processes which I'll describe in more detail in a few weeks but I'm fascinated to know whether you've had success persuading your teams, bosses or clients to be objective in their approach. If you've got a model that works please do let me know - just drop me a quick comment and if you don't mind I may follow up directly.
In the meantime just remember that decision makers are not always objective - but good processes are. So listen to the process not your boss.