No Spec Then, No Spec Now

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Jeffery Zeldman has rolled out a re-print of a piece he wrote back in January of 2004 that’s worth a read if you’re into the world of decrying spec work. You don’t have to go very far to get his opinion on the matter, starting with the title of the essay, “Don’t Design on Spec.” It’s a clear, concise argument against spec work, maybe the best we’ve seen and far beyond the “don’t do it because it’s bad, bad, bad” arguments we’ve read. If anything, you’ll just enjoy some classic Zeldman writing and that’s always worth the price of admission. Here’s bullet point number two in his reasons not to:

Design is only partly decoration. Mainly it is problem solving. Unless the RFP spells out site goals and user needs in phenomenal detail, you can’t create an appropriate design because you don’t yet know what problems need to be solved. (Even if the RFP spells out goals and needs, it’s unlikely that the people who wrote it know what all their site’s problems are. Most times you need to talk to people who use the site and study how they use it to get a handle on what works and doesn’t. It also helps to interview stakeholders. Doing that at your own expense is risky business at best.)