Web Site Committees Can Be Good, Committees Can Be Terrible

There are nine words that can worry the most seasoned web designer.

“We have a website committee to redesign the website.”

Now there can be good committees for such purposes. It all depends on the reasoning for building the committee. If the committee is comprised of folks with strong technical and internal work flow process experience and knowledge, the committee can be very useful. However, even such a committee needs a leader that provides focus on the project, timeline management for the committee members, and a sense of balance of what the committee’s mission and goals should be.

That leader can not be a contracted web developer. Committee leadership is not their job. That committee leader has to have a balanced focus on the goals and issues of the organization itself. In a committee process, the committee leader is equally important to the web developer for the redesign project. The leader should be picked with care.

There are several reasons why committees may not work, and we’ve seen a lot of these:

Committee membership does not include employees that will be responsible for the web site in the future.
Committee membership does not include expertise from staff for work product (such as sales information) that comes from the web site.
Committee membership is too focused on “look” and not much on “functionality.”
Committee membership sees the redesigned site as a final product and not as an evolution that will continue in the future.
Committee membership does not understand the technical aspects of the Internet at large.
Committee does not discuss or meet enough on project to develop consensus, creating continual reiterations.

I am not saying that website redesign committees can not work, we’ve seen some operate successfully. But they are in the minority. The key is to have the point person committee leader that will take the role of wrangling the committee members towards the final goal actively and keep all focused on the redesign’s goals; and secondly to populate your committee with people that are appropriate for this purpose.