Friday, December 03, 2004
Thursday, December 02, 2004
So, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Something that till now, only my Beautiful Wife and close friends and family members knew. Are your ready? Okay, here goes, I love infomercials. I know, I know, how in the world could I like them, right? Well, I do, I don't know why, I just do. My new favorite is the Magic Bullet. The whole idea, that people would invite you to a party, and show you how they prepared all the food for the party with this little magic machine is brillant. Of course there is no way in real life that anything like that would happen. Which is probably why I like it so much.
Of course I can't leave out the inventor of the informercial, Ron Popeil. You have to has some respect for the man that invented hair in a can and the pocket fisherman. His latest and greatest is the new "Showtime Pro". And of course it is all very affordable with only eight easy payments of $31.95. I don't know why, but I simply love that. The fact that it's marketing that is just right out there. It isn't trying to connect with you emotionaly, just here's the product, this is what it does, and oh yeah it pretty affordable. Ron, always comes up with the best little tag lines. "Set it and forget it." You can just say it, and people will say "oh, you have a Showtime Rotisserie Oven too!"
Now what really makes informercials the best, is the "if you call with in the next 20 minutes" call to action. This is where they think they have you hooked and, BAM, they hit you with the free ginsu knifes and the solid flavor injector, a 59.99 value, absolutely free! And if that isn't enough, they will even reduce the payments by one. You have to love this, they know that everyone wants something for nothing, and that is just what they are playing too.
So by now you are thinking that my house is filled with products "AS Seen on TV". But, no not so much. You see, they are all what we call in my house "turniptwatelors". And you don't actually buy them, you just sit back and enjoy them through the magic of television.
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.