Shiny Object Syndrome: A deadly project killer

We are all guilty of it, developers, designers and clients alike; we like the new, the cool, and the cutting edge. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this. Everyone wants their website to stand out from the crowd and to do that; you need to be on the cutting edge of technology. That is a great idea as long as you have it in the planning stage of your website.

jQuery is a hot technology these days that gives designers and UI experts a lot of very nice widgets to help improve your user’s experience. Flash was the technology to do this before jQuery came along. Designers look at the functional specifications that you create and they start drawing out the wireframes. At some point they begin fleshing those out and telling the developers to put a “carousel” here or an “accordion widget” there. This is good because they understand the purpose those elements serve. The danger comes when someone, the developer, the designer or even you, the client, see something new on another website and insist that it be integrated. This is what we call Shiny Object Syndrome and it can kill a good project.

The danger is that all of the other elements on the page were placed purposefully to enhance the user’s experience on your website. This new shiny object’s sole purpose is to be shiny. At best it will distract your users from the designed flow; at worst it will confuse the user to the point where they abandon your site and move to on to the next.

Not only do you need to avoid being the harbinger of S.O.S, you need to be vigilant and watchful that, after the design phase of your project, new shiny objects are not introduced into your project by other, well meaning team members.

Save your project, be ever vigilant for S.O.S.

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