We always asked this question to figure out what the client considers a successful or good-looking design. It also felt like a good way to make the process democratic, which we (mistakenly) thought was important in the design process.
But instead of getting insights into how I should design their website, two things would start to happen:
1. This question primed the client to think about what they liked, and not what was functional for their users. A lot of pretty websites perform like crap because they overwhelm the user with too much content or frustrate the user with pretty elements that don’t work as expected.
2. The client would expect that my design would look like the website or websites they really liked. And most of the time the websites they liked weren’t good guides to work from. So we’d end up in this back-and-forth over the design and I’d end up feeling forced to produce work that wouldn’t work for the users just to satisfy the client.
Design is a representative democracy
As the designer / developer, you represent the user when they can’t represent themselves.
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