It is clearly their fault.
The clients just don’t get design.
The designers only care about how it looks.
The developers have no sense for aesthetics.
CSS is broken.
The users are just too stupid.
It is clearly their fault. Is it, though?
Whenever we struggle or fail, our first instinct is often to blame others or external factors beyond our control. Psychologists have a name for that: Self-serving bias. When we exhibit the self-serving bias, it is primarily to boost our self-esteem. We take credit for personal success to feel better and more confident and at the same time try to preserve our confidence by denying that we might also be responsible for personal failure.
The self-serving bias is a bias, though. So it would be fatal to simply accept it and keep on blaming external factors. Because we might be mistaken. In fact, we often are. And this keeps us from identifying the real problems and changing our behavior accordingly. Take the statement “the client just doesn’t get design“, for example. It might be true that the client has a hard time understanding your design or that she has no eye for great typography. But if you have to change your design against your will or the project even fails, blaming the client conceals the true problem: That you failed to communicate the intention of your design or the intricacies and importance of good typography. Maybe you were not voicing your opinion loud enough. Maybe you were too complacent or not optimistic enough. Or maybe you also work in an environment, where designers don’t present and explain their work in front of the client by themselves. Whatever it is, though, it is very likely to happen again if you hide behind the self-serving bias and don’t acknowledge the fact that something is wrong.
What if it is actually not their fault?
What if clients could get design? What if better collaboration between designers and developers would improve mutual understanding? What if CSS isn’t broken but you simply don’t know it good enough yet? What if users are just the way they are and, in reality, your design just does not cut the mustard yet?
What if we actually could change all of that?
This is the 42nd post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.