Two weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of making the user experience a core value. Today I’d like to discuss another shift in mindset that must occur before a user-centered web design process can succeed.

Design and development of a modern website is too complex a task to just “pull out of the air” and get right the first time. No matter how clever and well trained your team is, there are simply too many elements to consider (many of which, including user expectations, are in a constant state of flux).

And yet, at many organizations, design and development teams are still expected to get everything right the first time — usually without any formal process for testing and/or consulting with actual users.

This mindset must change. Management — and the entire design and development team — must understand that web development is a continual, iterative process. You must be willing to put your ideas out there, get feedback, make changes, launch again, get more feedback, make more changes… in a never-ending process of incremental improvement.

Most importantly, everyone involved must fully appreciate that an iterative process is not about “fixing errors”. It’s about testing new ideas, being willing to accept user feedback, and being willing to adapt. If an idea doesn’t work, nobody should have to worry about losing their job. Even “failures” should be embraced, as they represent a learning opportunity.