Through the Critic's Looking Glass

April 11, 2011

Posted in Design, Leadership, Marketing, and Web Industry.

I spend a lot of time looking at other higher ed websites. Knowing what’s out there is part of our job. Last week, a few colleagues and I spent some time sharing our favorite sites and looking at what others are doing out there. And something strange happened: we became critics.

If you have high standards, it’s hard not to apply them to every site you visit. But taking time to really think critically about sites – not just the first impression, but considering a site deeply – allows you to consider your own site in this way.

In other words, how would your work stand up to the scrutiny of you and your peers?

In this case, we all had strong opinions and different perspectives. Minds were changed (yes, including my own) and key themes began to emerge. One of the more enlightening moments was our answer to the question, “what makes a great website?”

Perhaps you aren’t comfortable criticizing your own work. Or maybe it’s become too easy to capitulate when a client starts making demands. At the end of the project, are you full of excuses as to why the website isn’t as good as it should be? If so, are you satisfied with that?

This week at my team meeting, I intend to lead our staff in just such a discussion. I’ll be sure to share our responses here.