The Free TON community holds many design contests. There are a lot of submitted works, a lot of time spent on their rating by the judges, and according to the results of contests, many good pictures are formed and the winners find their rewards. What is the problem?
Web & Design Subgovernance is often faced with questions of rating and doubts about the competence of the jury (we will avoid the assumptions of some participants about conspiracies in this topic). Community members are investigating, asking for the expulsion of certain juries, and wanting to conduct audits.
Let's try to figure out why this is happening
What really fascinates people about the variety of visual noise that surrounds us? Why are you watching one commercial and skipping another? Why are you sending your friends a link to a new site? This is a general view, a picture that caught on at first sight. "Good design" changes with new trends that become the norm over time. What is the criteria of this norm, where does it came from? Why do you like or dislike something? Most often it happens like this - what is expected and completely predictable is considered a bad taste. What surprises us a little is good. And too original seems absurd to us and no longer attracts. But how to deal with "taste"? The answer lies in the fact that we know for sure that the design must work.
Contests reward only the visible parts of a design — style — and ignore the most important but the most difficult parts: interaction, experience, true satisfaction, and even economic success. Of course, judges can praise other aspects of the design in their comments, but they cannot be based on convincing evidence. No tests, no research, no independent evidence. As a result, Web & Design Subgovernance contests only reinforce the myth that graphic design is primarily about style and that a "shiny" picture leads to success. But that is not the case.
The jury of the design contest can only evaluate the materials submitted to them. The works of the participants invariably consist only of drawings, graphics and videos, accompanied by comments. However, all these elements are not used during the competition, and as a result, the judges cannot check their performance, they cannot observe how the intended audience uses them, they cannot assess how well they provide interaction, what pleasure or pain they bring to users, what are the benefits of each work. These issues lead to fundamental limitations of design contests.
While the judges of Web & Design Subgovernance are well-meaning, they are doomed to fail because they lack the information they need to make informed and intelligent choices. The only thing that can be judged is appearance.
So why is this happening? We cannot blame the judges or anyone else: it is difficult to correctly hold such contests without a full analysis, as well as launch dozens or hundreds of concepts into work during the contest. Judges strive to reward the best looking work based both on their taste and on graphic design fundamental rules. They would rather consider research on product performance, ease of use, and user satisfaction. But the structure of design contests is fundamentally incapable of providing relevant evidence. As a result, the judges must use the material provided to them - the schedule and the job description.
Design for Free TON is about finding unmet needs, the way people interact with the ecosystem, usability of that ecosystem, the economic component and the provision of utility. It's not just about style and looks, although they play an important role.
But how can judges rate the clarity, usefulness, and vitality of a design? Style and shape can be judged by the picture, but it takes months or years to gauge market success. This assessment of the entries will require significant time and analysis, and evidence that the tests were conducted by independent organizations using procedures that ensure that there is no bias. All this will take time and money.
Do you think Web & Design Subgovernance contests can be improved? Will they have to change the way they operate? Let's try to reveal our proposals in the next article on this topic, which you can see on our channel. See you!