This entry was originally posted on March 22, 2007 at the old Brandstory blog (link available for a limited time). Of the 200 or so entries I posted there, this one got the most ardent comments. For those who care, I have posted the original comments here. They’re long and a little contentious.
“…DESIGNERS SUCK. I’m sorry. It’s true. DESIGNERS SUCK. There’s a big backlash against design going on today and it’s because designers suck.
So let me tell you why. Designers suck because they are arrogant. The blogs and websites are full of designers shouting how awful it is that now, thanks to Macs, Web 2.0, even YouTube, EVERYONE is a designer. Core 77 recently ran an article on this backlash and so did we on our Innovation & Design site. Designers are saying that Design is everywhere, done by everyone. So Design is debased, eroded, insulted. The subtext, of course, is that Real design can only be done by great star designers.
This is simply not true.”
Bruce isn’t just talking about graphic designers, but all professionals who design. Read the whole thing.
Let me say that I agree—sort of. I work with plenty of designers who don’t suck. Great talents who understand that non-functional design is called art, not design. Exceptional artists who love to help clients create things they can’t do on their own (at a price that makes sense). Designers who are more interested in the needs of their clients (including sometimes making the logo bigger), than their own needs for aesthetics.
But almost every day, I see designers who treat their customers like morons, or think their clients don’t know anything about their own customers, or the needs of their own businesses. I’ve read comments by designers who have argued that if an entrepreneur can’t afford an expensive logo created by a “professional” designer, they shouldn’t be allowed to start a business. And I’ve read a “Client Code of Ethics” written by designers about how clients should act when working with them.
Designers don’t suck. They offer an incredibly valuable service (regardless of price). But some of them need a reality check.
The value of design is not determined by the price charged by the designer (great design is available at all price points). The quality of design is not determined by years of experience (or advertising agencies would be filled with 65 year olds, rather than 20 year olds). The acceptability of design is not determined by where you get it (you can get great graphic design at Landor as well as Logoworks [full disclosure: I work at Logoworks]).
Someone once said that politics is too important to be left to the politicians. The same is true of design. Your business/brand is far too important to be left exclusively to the designer. Bruce argues, “People want to participate in the design of their lives. They insist on being part of the conversation about their lives.” If you’re serious about the design of your brand, you want to be a part of that conversation too.
Be a designer.