Daphne Shinn

Daphne is an enthusiastic web content specialist at Presenter, in the Netherlands. She translates strategy into practical plans, focusing on content management, project coordination, and editing. She likes to dive head first into digital projects to bring structure, collaboration, laughter and good coffee.

She (re)tweets in Dutch and English as @DaphneShinn

Published Thoughts

Digital judgment

Tweets in the spur of the moment. A blog with a nasty tone. ‘Digital judgement’ seems easier than saying the same thing to someone’s face. Some of the comments my fellow content and website specialists publish about other organisations’ websites make me feel uneasy. Often they are right in their criticism. But are they right in judging? I’d like to join the conversation, but when it seems to start as an attack, I keep out of it.

At Dare Conference 2013 Phil Powell closed his talk with the meme “Everybody you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” He was referring to ‘personal’ battles people cope with, but I think it can also apply to the work itself. Having done a couple digital projects for complex organisations, I know the battles of deadlines, politics, budget, priorities, people and the inevitable compromises. I think most of you do.

So someone’s solution doesn’t seem right to you. You know what? It might have been a hundred times worse in the first draft, after someone in the board laid down personal demands. Technical reasons at the back-end could prevent a better solution just now. They might have made a choice to put most of the budget into a functionality that was more important to their clients. Maybe a plan to improve on it is ready to be implemented. Or they might not know what they don’t know. I don’t think there are a lot of people who make ‘bad’ choices on purpose.

If you feel like attacking or severely criticizing someone else’s work, it would be nice if you ask them for a reaction first. (No, that’s not the same as giving them the option to reply in the comments.) Or at least phrase your judgement as a question or a personal opinion. Like: I don’t understand your choice to […], can you explain? Then keep in mind they can’t always tell you the entire story. Not all organisations appreciate their internal struggles being broadcasted in public. But it might eventuate in an offline conversation you both learn from.

Even better: Judge your own work, the work you DO know everything about, and write about THAT. It should be easy to be critical of your own work. Lots of us are, right? And you should be able to explain your choices, or come to the conclusion that — in hindsight — they were not the right ones. If you can’t do that ‘in public’ — because your client doesn’t want you to — think about how you would feel if someone calls you on it without you being able to explain?

Try not to attack. Start a conversation instead.