Implementing Standardization Without Stifling Creativity

Aaron Salo - Developer


Being told that you have to standardize is the last thing that most of us want to hear when it come to being creative. Automatically we think that this will result in a cookie cutter finished product. Which is the last thing we want to deliver as a creative company. Since we strive to deliver a personalized final product in everything we do.

So given that goal why would you even consider standardizing anything? Well the reasons are many and vary based on the given project, but here are just a few that may come into play on.

Speed: Every project has a deadline that needs to be meet, so you may need to pull in pre built  components to meet that deadline.

Stability: Any time you’re dealing with an existing item you already know that it works and you eliminate the unknown of an untested component. As well you know with certainty the functionality of that item, which eliminates the worry that you can deliver the promised functionality.

Easier to onboard new team members: Any standardized components that you already have built should also have a defined way of using it. Which makes it easier to train new team members as you bring them on to match your needs. While still maintaining the expected level of excellence, that people before them have put so much time into building.

Budget: The reality is that not every client has an infinite budget, so you have to be respectful of that situation while still delivering a product to be proud of.

Now with all of that being said we can’t just drop in prebuilt components and call it a day. This would not meet clients expectations, nor would it leave any room for creativity. If the client was looking for that approach they might as well go with an online template provider which they set up them self.

Instead early in the process you identify which components would benefit the most from the extra time spent to customize them based on all the previous considerations. That way you respect the clients deadline and budget while still delivering a customized final product which we can be proud of as a company.

The reason this works is because there are only so many ways you can build certain things like a menu or slideshow that will still be intuitive for users. So you can save time by using an existing structure for those items and focus on styling them to match the flow of the site. Instead of building a custom structure every time which ends up being similar anyway. This opens up more time which can be spent customizing the part that really matter and which will give the largest impact for the client.

So in the end if creativity and standardization are balanced properly, you can make informed decisions as a creative team where you will spend your client’s budget wisely. To deliver something that your client will love, while still not forcing the creative process into a cookie cutter experience.