I’ve always known that something wasn’t quite right with corporate websites, and after seeing things like Dustin Curtis’ mockery of American Airlines, I couldn’t help but explore the topic furthur. Why is it so hard for a large corporations to create successful strategies online? Bureaucracy.
Designers need to sell ideas to middle managers, middle managers in turn sell those ideas to upper management. If upper management doesn’t scoff it then and there, it may make it to that illusive decision maker. I’ve found that communication can quickly stray from it’s original message in any chain of conversion. It’s hard to tell if your intended message makes it all the way through. As designers we need to realize that it is our job to shake things and force influence upon decision makers from time to time. If we aren’t loud we’ll never be heard. Why is this so hard to do in a corporate web design environment? As Andy Rutledge beautifully puts it, “It’s usually about trying to keep the dumbest people in the room (or in the company) from shooting themselves in the foot.”
The reason this sort of thing is allowed to happen is because the corporate model for projects does not work for a design project. Design can only succeed when all of the relevant business needs and expectations: for the brand, end-users, marketing, conversion, as well as decision-maker concerns are communicated to the designers. And it helps to know just who the ultimate decision makers are. But this so seldom happens in the corporate world, as decision makers are hidden behind layers of administration and process, so designers often end up working without the information necessary to satisfy them.