Net Mag “Design Challenge” ideas

I recently wrote to net magazine regarding their “Website Build-Off section” with some solid ideas to inject energy into what was becoming, in my opinion, a bit of a tired format – and they’ve been gracious enough to put them (edited-down) in print:

Not only that, but they’ve also invited readers to comment, as well as submit their own ideas to further develop the “Build Off” format in line with this month’s redesign.

The gist of my letter was that I felt the Build-Off section let designers get away with producing airy-fairy designs that looked great on paper, but really that was the limit of their value / use.

I’m passionate about design, but also about the need for it to be far more closely-aligned with development. Too often (especially in agencies) design and development are treated as sequential-but-separate processes, where in actual fact they are two very-much-connected sides of the same coin; design informs development, and development informs design.

What if  designers wanting to showcase their talents in (what is now) the “Design Challenge” were actually challenged to create something that better-reflected the way we work in the real world, and took their ideas further than the static, printed page?

Some of the ideas I suggested:

  • Voting / Suggestions – readers vote via a poll or email for next month’s challenge
  • Competition – make entering the Challenge a competition, with the prize being publication
  • Different kinds of projects – games, apps, portals, etc
  • Pick a page – not just the home page
  • Collaboration – have teams collaborate in real life, and share the process
  • Complimentary skills – have techies and designers work together
  • Open Source it – release the full source and results of each challenge
  • Real-world solutions – ensure the work makes a difference, e.g. support a charity, social startup, or engage with ideas or topics that make people think

Click to read my thoughts in full and please do let Net mag know your feedback at either @netmag or Or if you’d like, rip into me in the comments 😉

Anyway, it’s a truly great magazine and stands to be even better with user input, which they’ve been kind enough to ask for, so get involved.

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