New Does Not Mean Better

Ugh!!! So frustrating! When clients say one thing but mean another. Or worse when they provide you with one tool, but that’s not the tool they really want you to use. I keep trying to please and they keep accusing me of wasting their time.

Pardon me? Who’s wasting who’s time?!

I got this “Pro Theme” from a client with no instruction except plug it in and brand it. Well the thing is, if you have no content you can’t see what the brand is going to look like. So I created a page with latin filler. Click. Paste. Save. No big waste of time, but now I have a visual reference to design around. And I spent quite a bit of time customizing the CSS and formatting logos and banners and icons and adding filler with links so I could see how they looked.

An absolute waste of time.

“No, I meant add the demo content and leave it like that.” Well that’s a far cry from “install and brand”. “I have a tech guy who can do the install. I could call him.” Great. Then why haven’t you? Maybe because he’s frustrated with you for sending mixed / conflicting messages too.

So I do some searching and there is no attached demo content for this package… because they’ve up and built it in. Ugh! Themes keep reinventing the wheel just to be different. So click I hit install. Literally 2 seconds.

“You’re wasting my time! That’s the wrong demo.” Then maybe you could tell me which demo to use, Hmmm? Sound reasonable? PS: You’re being a jerk so that 2 seconds just became 20 minutes. Turns out the reason I installed the wrong demo is because she sent me the wrong theme.

“But it’s ABC Theme. This other site is ABC Theme and it looks way different.” That would be because ABC Theme is a brand and that brand has many products. You got your Coke Classic, your Diet Coke, Your Lemon Lime Coke, Your Coke Max, your Cherry Coke… Not my fault.

So she sends me to another site where someone has installed a test section and then followed all the clients instruction to rebrand and add content in the main site. The test pages look good – that’s where the demo content is. The main section… Gag me! THIS is the “Pro version” of yourself you want the world to see?!!! Everything was just plunk, plunk plunk – plug and play. There was no mindfulness of size or scale or margins or colour coordination or custom formatting for the space and text… You get what you pay for.

I guess I know why she was reluctant to get the new wiz kid to do this new install. (That and work ethic. I will work through days and nights to ensure you have your project in as short a period as possible. Kids… 2 – 3 weeks later… here’s something.)

Back on the aesthetics: Yes, my services are more per hour than the kid fresh out of school, but then do you really want your corporate image to look like it was conceived for a school portfolio? It takes years of training and hands on experience to even begin to feel the nuances of good design. There is no formula, no cut n paste. There is no one size fits all. I’m embarrassed for my client. I think she feels that embarrassment herself. “We’ll get him to do the set up and call you when we need the branding for other projects.” Yeah… great. I’ll be here… If I’m not too busy delivering top notch quality to someone else who appreciates the value of professionalism.

Rant Over.

You see, the thing about demo content is that it’s really good high end stuff. Those designers spend hundreds of hours perfecting their package to make you go “WOW!” at every turn. They’ve filled their pages top to bottom with tones of content, glossy images and so much customization they’ve measured the layout right down to the last punctuation mark placement.

That’s all fine and dandy until you turn around any you’ve got nothing.

“We’re moving away from these heavy word based sites into more picture oriented design,” she said to me. I get that. I’ve taken “the class”. I’ve heard all the “modern jargon”. Fewer words, more visitor directing.

Magazines did this same thing many years ago actually. This is nothing new. We went from exciting monthly volumes of good reads – articles, stories, reports… things with words and ideas we could wrap our brains around, learn from and grow. Now it’s all bits and bites – blocks of info with a HUGE TITLE and 3 lines of text if you’re lucky. “Today’s reader doesn’t have the attention span to… blah, blah, blah.” Snooze.

Can you remember the last article you read? Beyond the title can you recall any ideas that were shared? Probably not because it was just 3 generic bullet points.

To that I say:
They are right. It is easy to gloss over a page and pick out those blurbs that excite us.
And they are dead wrong.Thank’s for assuming I’m a complete idiot incapable of actual thought, never mind the shear joy of reading. I stopped buying magazines when I was 24 for that very reason. I couldn’t stand being dumbed down to any more.

And today’s sites put the same sickly knot of stupidity in my stomach. Absolutely, give us those bits and bits to lure us in and take note of what’s important to you, but don’t throw away all that content! In the end if all the value that you are giving your visitor is a bloppity blop, why should they ever come back? What value is in it for them? Your glossy pictures are boring! Surely there must be some balance.

Listen to those marketing gurus – they know what they are saying. But they are not preaching a religion, they’re sharing ideas. Incorporate the new with the old. But don’t erase everything for their few shallow tips and tricks! I really am sick of all these cookie cutter sites. I can’t tell one from another any more. None are memorable, therefore non are working.