Thursday, December 02, 2004

Everyone is a designer

Have you ever notice that everyone thinks they are a designer? Honestly, everyone does. This has always been the case and it seems to be getting worse. When I did graphic design, every customer thought they could design. My first taste of this was the first business card I designed. It followed all the good design rules, no element was to large to detract from the other elements. At a glance, you would know the companies name, their telephone number and who you were dealing with. It had a design that drew your eye from the top left corner to the bottom right. Of course the customer wanted their logo that they had designed themselves (which of course took four hours of clean up to make usable) to be bigger and the phone number to be smaller, and really completely threw off the balance completely. They were thrilled with this version and I hated. But I had bills to pay and had to eat, so they were right. It didn't matter to them that my design made them more memorable and less like everyone business card.

Flash forward a couple of years, it's the dotcom boom, and I am working at one of the big music websites. One of the sites I was responsible for was the an DC site. It featured clips from the past AB shows, and audio clips of the songs that were DC's number one for the weekly top 40. The site had a black background, a header, navigation on the left side, and content in the middle. just like almost every site on the internet.  Anyhow, we get a call from DC's lawyers, and they tell us that there needs to be a clear division between the navigation and the content. Now, the site had been up for awhile, it was very user friendly. They just somehow thought that for "legal" reasons, it needed to be their. So I said apparently this was something they taught at the Harvard School of Law and Design.

Flash forward to today. I find out from my boss, that someone that hasn't studied design, usability, trends in the industry has made more design decisions for us. I already feel that the usability of the design has been choked, with my only relief from that feeling being that we will get to redesign it. Adjust the architecture to fit the growth that we need.  I just don't know what to think. The whole corporate status quo thing just doesn't work for me. I like new designs. I like new projects. I like learning new things. Working on leading edge technology. Don't get me wrong, I do understand the difference between bleeding edge and leading edge. I guess I'm just a frustrated designer, frustrated by people that think art is a waste of time, and are willing to tell me what is a good design, when I have spent so much time studying design.

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