Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Are "Best Practices" Right Practices?

I see the term “best practices” used widely, and I wonder what that term means. “Best” according to whom? “Best” relative to what? Does “best” also mean “right?” Or does it just mean that this is the most common practice or the best of what exists? I think that term is used to glibly.

“Best” implies that someone evaluated a group of practices and decided that one of them was the best of the group. If that's not the case - if there was no evaluation of the full array of practices, performed by one or more experts in the subject matter, based on objective criteria - then we shouldn’t be using the term “best.”

But my greater concern is that many people interpret “best practice” as the right thing to do. That may or may not be the case. Best practices normally are the best of what exists. It’s entirely possible that none of the current options really is the right practice to address the goal or problem.

When it comes to web content management practices, I think we should be on a quest for “right practices” and not just comfortable with accepting the best of what is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree--best practices has become "what everyone else is doing" and is used as justification for requiring webmanagers to follow suit. No judgement is made as to whether or not it is the "right" thing to do, just the accepted thing.

In other words, Best Practices is the new buzz phrase being used to justify a "follow the herd" mentality.