Something to Argue About

Recently, the tech comm team at my company decided to create a style guide for our screen shots. Everything was up for grabs. Should we go with 4 pixel black borders? What about 2 pixel gray ones? Should we use drop shadows? What size?

Now, I’m perfectly happy with whatever decisions are made, as long as we all stick with them. But the problem is that everyone else felt exactly the same way.

It’s like the old debate about what movie to rent. “I don’t care, you decide.” “No, you decide.” And an hour later, you end up watching a rerun of Friends and going to bed. (Or is that just me?)

Someone should decide everything

As far as I know, there’s only one good way out of this mess. One person has to go make all the decisions and deliver them. Even if that person doesn’t care, he or she needs to deliver a document that says something like:

  • We will use 5 pixel black borders.
  • We will use 2 pixel blue boxes around buttons.
  • We will use a 3 pixel, left-side drop shadow.
  • Etc.

Once it’s on paper, then everyone has something to argue about. I know that they said they didn’t care, but they may find that they have opinions that they didn’t know they had.

“Oh, wait, isn’t 5 pixels a bit much for a border?” “Wouldn’t red stand out more than blue?”

Of course, if they still don’t have opinions, then you’ve got your style guide right there. But either way, you’re a big step closer to getting what you aimed for in the first place. The key is to get something, anything, down on paper.

Does this make sense? Are there better ways do this? Is Friends still on at night?



4 Responses to “Something to Argue About”

  1. October 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Does this make sense? Yes.

    Are there better ways do this? I can’t think of any. It’s essential, though, that somebody be designated as the final arbiter – so that the argument doesn’t drag on forever.

    Is Friends still on at night? Only if that’s what the whole group wants.

    • October 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      Yes! You are absolutely right, and I should have mentioned that someone must have the final say.

  2. October 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    I’m a year late to this post, but I’ve just about made a career out of being the first one to put it on paper. “It” has ranged from “what color are the box borders” to much bigger stuff, like “what will be the structure of our rebuilt agency website?”

    99% of the time, 90+% of what you put in that first version ends up in the final version. Volunteering to take a shot at it gives you the power to largely set the direction.

    Yes, you do need someone to say “it’s done,” but in my experience, consensus has been pretty easy to achieve even before it gets to the decision maker.

    Being that person to put it on paper first has led to me, today, being the decision maker. 🙂

  3. November 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Excellent point, Jeffrey. Become the decision-maker by default. It still counts for the resume: “I was the one who created the style guide that’s still in use today.”

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