Make it Work: What Web Pros Can Learn from Tim Gunn

My heart skipped several beats when I saw this feature about the return of Project Runway this summer (squee!). What am I looking forward to most? Not the crazy challenges. Not the inflated designer egos. Not even the snarky trifecta of judges Klum, Kors, and Garcia. No, I am most excited about the return of the ever-impeccable, always-insightful Tim Gunn, who serves as a mentor for the designers. Each season, he helps designers channel their creativity with gentle but constructive critiques. In fact, I think we web professionals can learn a few lessons from the words and wit of La Gunn.

1. Gather ‘Round
Each episode, Tim Gunn asks the designers to “Gather ‘Round” as he reveals something crucial (and usually unexpected) about their design challenge. If you’re working on an interactive project, follow Tim’s lead and frequently have your team “gather round” and discuss the status of the project. Too often, interactive teams work in isolated silos—the designers don’t know what the developers are up to; the marketers don’t consult with the content producers, etc. Periodic, cross-departmental check-ins can help keep up a project’s momentum and enhance the final result.

2. Make it Work
This is Tim’s most famous catch-phrase, usually deployed when a designer is at a sink-or-swim point during a challenge. The clock is ticking, the design’s not clicking, and there’s nothing to do but forge ahead. Who in the web industry hasn’t faced a make-it-work moment? Sometimes you just stay focused and forge ahead. Sometimes you step back, breathe deep, and start from scratch. The interesting thing is that these challenging moments frequently yield quite innovative results.

3. It’s a Matter of Taste
With this oft-repeated phrase, Tim reminds the Project Runway designers that fashion is subjective. One woman’s Fabulous is another’s Faux-pas. In the end, it’s your client’s opinion that matters. That, of course, holds true for web professionals as well. No matter how florid your copy, no matter how flashy your design, no matter how elegant your code—you need to suit your client’s taste. Otherwise, get ready for an “auf wiedersehen.”

What can you add to the wisdom of the Gunn?

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