And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Symptoms of a Malignant Disease

Chris Armstrong talks about some obvious (to me) design issues for websites. Well, it's mostly about how we (the design industry) typically prototypes and generate comps for the client. Much of what he is talking about transcends much of the design industry and also works for print and TV. What he's talking about are legacy industry issues (I've only recently run into design shops that still have the old rigid job hierarchies, really, dudes, ADs that don't understand or can't do production? Get with the 90s.). I can't tell you how many times I've been in meetings where I've made the comment, "Hey, that's fabulous. It doesn't work that way in the real world." 

And here I will make the comment that I've broken new paradigms and have a knack for figuring out tough production problems. And it's a matter of pride that at my last day job I only had to go back to a client once to tell them, "Not possible" (although I have had to tell them that doing a 3-sided bleed on an envelope just isn't going to happen without converting the envelopes, which costs more and wasn't in the quote - or things similar to that, which goes back to actually understanding production). What I did tell them was, "I can make this effect you're looking for (which, BTW, your production solution was the worst concept) in two-color. I can do it in four color, like how you prototyped it, but two-color doesn't work that way." 

But with web design, I've been in teams that have experienced more of the, "this doesn't look like the prototype/demo" meetings.  It's all related to doing design work without an understanding of how the work will be produced in the real world. BTW, this is also a major failing of software instruction seminars/manuals. Most of the instructors and manual writers have never produced work in the products they make or train on. So they make basic mistakes, which they then convince their students are "just the way it is." 

For similar concepts see yesterday's link regarding standardized testing in education. The people doing the front end, management, training, and consulting only have a basic academic understanding of what they're doing. They've never done the work themselves, so they make rookie mistakes. But just like the garage passing through a computer, because they're being paid big dollars, nobody questions their shit. 

When I worked at Wendy's, one of the many shifts I worked was late night/prep. Every newly minted manager would be given that shift. After the third jerk came through with the, "We're going to make late night a money maker because, obviously, you've all just been lazing around and I've got ideas." They would all fail and usually mean we'd have to work extra hours to make up for the time they wasted. So the last two managers I trained on that shift, as they started their, "We're all a team" speech, I stopped them and said, "Work with us for a week. If you have ideas to improve the process after that, we're all ears."

Dear business managers, please learn the production side of the work you're involved in. It will save you so much time and money you just wouldn't believe it.

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