Saying “No” to extra site features takes self-discipline.

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Our designer gut-sense says, “No,” isn’t a warm send. It’s tough to deliver. We as designers are relationship-oriented. We are guilty of saying what others want to hear, even agreeing with bad ideas, or bowing to another’s agenda. A pleaser is “nice” and usually well liked. And they’re often taken advantage of, under-appreciated, and uncertain in their decision making. Sound familiar?

Design leadership means having the courage to say no to extra junk.

The power of “No” is necessary to carve time for our own goals and agenda. Without it, other people dictate our schedule and limit our accomplishments.

“No” also makes other people respect us and our time more. When we can say “No,” people come to us with only meaningful requests. There’s another cost to “No” that causes many designers to pull back: No can lead to conflict. We’d rather avoid that path.

OK, “No” costs. But, our pay off in integrity and autonomy as a designer is huge. The goal is to strengthen our ability to say “No” while lowering the cost to our work relationships.

Replace your automatic “Yes” with “I’ll think about it.” That simple phrase puts us in control. It softens the ground for “No” and suggests we’re weighing important factors. Most important, it allows us to think things through. A “No” that follows thoughtful decision making is stronger than a “No” charged by emotional impulse.

Saying no is a project management tool
Saying no is a project management tool.

Soften your language. Try saying:

  • I’m not comfortable with that.
  • I’d prefer not.
  • I’d rather…
  • Let’s agree to disagree here.
  • That’s an interesting plan, but I won’t be able to…

Make no mistake. You’re still delivering a clear and powerful “No,” and the other person will understand. This “No,” is sweeter and softer and may go down better.

Contain your feelings. “No” is best deployed with an air of Zen calm. (Tricky, because you likely feel far from it.) Outward calm helps quiet your inner turmoil. What’s more, it reduces the negative impact of our “No” on the brain of our audience. The jolt that “No” delivers is big enough without a tsunami of anger and insults.

Refer to your commitment to others. We can avoid appearing selfish or uncaring by telling our conflicting obligations to others. “I’d love to help, but I’ve already agreed to help my family then, and I can’t let them down.”

Realize you represent others. We’re more resolved if we imagine we’re negotiating on behalf of our family or our business. When it’s not just our own interest at stake, we’ll find it easier to say “No” to an unrealistic or low offer.

Rehearse. We may concoct one clear, respectful “No” and keep repeating it. “I cannot take on another project because my plate is too full.” Repeat it politely until your boss or client finally hears you.

Saying “No” takes self-discipline. It keeps us true to our principles and values – and protects us from abuse or exploitation by others.

Saying “No” keeps your simple site from evolving into a hulking space station.

Website feature overload. The more options a web site offers, the less satisfied users will be. Some companies have never understood this. This is “the paradox of choice.” To escape from this trap, don’t stack up features to make investors and management feel good with no clue about what site users want. Think about what users need.

Website teams must learn to say, “No.”
Learn how to manage feature requests from clients or bosses. They want to be helpful and bring value to a website. Do not rush to build something new just because of a single tweet, email message, or committee request. Having a clear vision that steers the site design brings value in the long run. It keeps your website clean, easy-to-use, and worth recommending.

The problem is: people are more comfortable with making short-term decisions. A good website designer must always keep the site’s long-term vision in mind. Being this disciplined is especially hard for developers. Following the path of building more new features is the way they work. Getting a task, completing it, and moving forward feels good. By nature, developers love building things, so the idea of removing features feels like a step backward to them. But doing is necessary for quality sites.

How designers can prevent building unnecessary features into websites and keep pages clean.

  • Build universal features whenever possible.
  • Consider enabling features only for customers who need them.
  • Display features at the appropriate moment.
  • Have a strong website vision and follow it.
  • Rethink your website speed, aesthetics, and transparency from time to time.
  • Question the usefulness of your sites’ features. What is useful today may not be tomorrow.

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by - Mike Milano