BoyDog Design
Design and more…

I suspect that as I get into this it may turn a bit snarky. I’m at a point right now where I vacillate between my genuine love of design and my disappointment in some of the absolute crap I see out there. I can’t help but notice the design that is born from an educated eye and respect for design. It is then coupled with a complete ignorance for design principle and put out for consumption simply because “they can” and with no regard for what preceded them in the design world. Yes, I am a design snob. And I can’t “get over it”.

I shake my head sometimes as I see a new commercial or print ad (albeit a print ad that I see on my iPad because I admit I read magazines online via a really cool app). I have to wonder how the pitch went for some of this stuff. Wouldn’t it be great if we did some really stupid stunt and combined it with some inane copy. Better yet, let’s crowdsource and pull some online babble. It’s so relatable to the public and it’s bound to be a hit. Speaking of hits – it’s bound to be “liked” by tons of people. This is when I start to wonder why this bullshit is tolerated.

When I was learning the ins and outs of advertising in college we had a few categories that our ads were put in. The point of these categories was to weed out the crap and leave the cream so ads could be refined and have some sort of plausible basis for being considered for presentation to a client. It was a brutal process at times. Ads pinned up on the wall and each one was critiqued by some of these standards:

  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Bad
  • I Don’t Get It
  • I’ve Seen It Before
  • Bullshit
  • Too Cute

It was not uncommon to put your ad up for review and have it torn to pieces during the critique. That’s how we all learned. It helped develop a mindset that wasn’t in a rush to put out crap for public consumption. (I’m reading through this now and I realize I use the word crap a lot. If it offends you, “get over it”.)

Now I know that business is all about making money. Money, money, money. I also know that there a some designers and artists who have made a very comfortable living putting out sub-standard work. For some reason they’ve caught on – they trend, they fascinate, they entice, they are provocative. Oooohhh! Unfortunately I’m not one of them. I can’t get those design principles out of my head.

I know that thinking out of the box will bring along innovation and a unique perspective. I’m all for that. Times change and the things that people relate to change with them. I get that. Demographics change. The economy takes its toll. People leave the industry and new people step in. Change is inevitable. I get it. At some point though I can’t help but wonder what happens when little by little we let basic design principles become eroded and disappear. I’ll use my local newspaper as an example. Some months back they set out to redesign the paper. One day I opened the paper and wondered, “What the hell happened here?” My eyes were having trouble focusing on the articles because they had used multiple fonts in multiple type sizes. HUGE headlines and then teeny tiny copy for some while others had whacky font choices and big spaces (kerning) in the copy. It takes a few days and finally the editor writes that they are in a redesign process and, yes, they’ve heard from people about how bad it looks. OMG! To date it’s not uncommon to see widows and orphans in the typeset. Articles just end in mid-sentence. And those pesky fonts keep showing up now and again. I suppose if the most important goal is to keep those circulation numbers up you’ll let a few things slide.

It’s no different online. Some websites were fantastic for their navigation. Then one day for whatever their reasoning they’ve changed things and now it takes more clicks to get to where you want to go. It isn’t intuitive anymore. I find myself just staring at the page – I can’t figure out where I’m supposed to go. I love animation. I love slideshows. I also like the ability to read. Simply read the information I’m interested in. It doesn’t have to move. It just needs to sit there and be readable. I understand that there are many ways to construct sites these days. They each have their own perks. Some just look cool. Some can be maintained by their administrators. I know companies like that. There are the ones with the latest bells and whistles – what’s trending in tech design at the moment. Not always a bad thing I must say. It’s not for me to figure out why they do what they do. I do know that I’m going to notice things. I’m going to notice the inconsistencies, the lack of continuity, the navigation issues, the use of art and the way it’s all composed on the page. I am, as I’ve already confessed, a design snob. I will ultimately wonder where we’re headed if the lack of design standards appears to be the way we do things in the future. Will anybody notice the sloppy work? Will anybody question the composition of an ad? Will online and print media turn into a mere scrapbook of ideas, art, and type that are put together disguised as professionally designed media? If the public doesn’t notice, who will care? If the money keeps rolling in, why bother? If the future of design devolves into what’s the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to communicate then I’m going to be very sad. For me it all comes down to design. I love it. I want to preserve the best of design. No shortcuts. No sloppy work. No babble for copy. No crap.

Postscript: I wrote this almost a year ago. Never posted it because I thought it might be a bit much. Looking at it now, I have to say my thoughts are the same — so here it is…

 

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