Make my logo bigger, and bouncing. And I want music playing. Also, please use this picture I took with my cell phone. And lots of Comic Sans.
There is a certain comment that I hear from time to time. It’s one that I don’t really like to hear. It’s one that I don’t really want to respond to, because doing so means I have to say some things that I don’t necessarily want to say. Keep reading and you’ll see where I’m coming from. Here’s the dreadful comment:
OnWired’s site looks really great, but it seems like quality drops off a bit when it comes to some of the work in your portfolio.
I’ll be the first to admit that I agree with the comment. I spent months lovingly pushing pixels to create the design for our own site. There was no deadline. No budget. No set of limitations. I was free to design the site however I wanted, so I did.
With client work, however, I can’t do whatever I want. None of us can. We try, and we certainly make a case for our suggestions, but sometimes people just don’t listen. They hire us because of our expertise, but then some of them tie our hands and act like back seat drivers. Unfortunately, as we hear all too often, “the customer is always right.”
That said, I’ve compiled a list of things that clients have actually said. If you’re a designer, you’ll probably laugh knowingly as you read this list because you’ve heard the same. If you’re a client, please take note and don’t say these things to the poor soul you’ve hired.
You can only use Arial.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of wacky rules in corporate style guides — horrible color combinations, poor naming conventions, and plenty of wacky font choices. But Arial? Seriously? That is your official font? There are no alternates? No secondary fonts that can be used for headlines or callouts? Oh…Arial Bold and Arial Italic. Awesome.
You have to use these blurry, underexposed, pixelated and/or inappropriate photos.
As any designer knows, a good photo will make or break a design. Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours looking through stock imagery and even shooting some of my own pictures to get just the right look for a site. It always breaks my heart when you’ve created something really great and are then asked to replace the main photo on the home page with one taken with somebody’s mobile phone.
Make the logo bigger.
Designers like grids for layouts. They like it when things fit nicely into their grids. They really want everything on a given page to be nice and proportional. But then you get a request to double the size of the logo. Why? Because a competitor’s logo is bigger. Let me say now that just because someone else’s logo is bigger or smaller doesn’t make their site any better or worse. Well…ok…that’s not true. It could definitely make their site worse, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Either way, comparing logo sizes is not the best way to judge good design. Trust your designer.
By the way, this one is so common that it’s spawned an internet phenomenon: Make My Logo Bigger Cream!
Make the logo animated.
Right after asking for a ginormous logo, this is usually the next request. Frenzied, bouncing, jiggling, exploding logos attract attention, so they must be good…right? I’ll concede that there may be a time and a place for a logo with slight, simple animation. However, when it detracts from the site — when it distracts or annoys the visitor because it keeps moving and jumping and catching on fire over and over and over again — it’s bad. Really bad.
We want to keep our lame old logo, even though you’re offering to design a newer, better one for free.
I’ve seen some terrible logos in my time. One was so bad that it would instantly crap up any design it was used in. Being the nice guys we are, we offered to design a new logo free of charge. We just wanted to take what they had, clean it up a bit, and come up with some better type treatment — something other than Times New Roman, which really wasn’t a good fit for their business. They refused. We ultimately didn’t take the project.
Make it exactly like X.
This is the second time this had made it onto one of my lists. Last time, I was talking about red flags that pop up when talking to prospective clients. We’re generally not in the business of ripping things off from other designers, so we talk people out of it early on. Of course, sometimes it comes back up during the design process. The client may want some icon or button or feature or photo or whatever that is exactly like something else. Now if it fits — if it works with the concept of the site — then it might be worth putting our own spin on the idea and coming up with something similar. However, just because someone else has funny kitten videos from YouTube on their home page doesn’t mean it’s right for your client’s site, especially when your client is a lawyer or accountant or something like that (unless they specialize in law or accounting for veterinarians or pet stores).
This looks too good for government work.
A friend of mine works for an engineering firm that gets lots of government contracts, particularly from FEMA. His job is to design documentation, graphics, charts, presentations, etc., for those government projects. He recently turned in a very well-designed report — something that looked truly great but was still very professional. He was told to redo it because it looked too good.
So what’s the takeaway?
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. We as designers all have bills to pay. Clients pay us, which in turn allows us to keep our lights on and feed our children, so sometimes we have to bow to the wishes of those clients even if we don’t agree.
So to anyone making the aforementioned comment about the disparity between our own site and our portfolio, there’s your answer: there is a difference in quality because clients were involved in the process.
And to those hiring designers, please trust them. Don’t tie their hands. Let them do their jobs. Believe me — they are capable of creating beautiful masterpieces if you’ll just let them do their thing, and the end product will be better for it.
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