I realize I am going to paint with a pretty broad brush here, but stereotypes come about because more often than not, they fit.
I had a longtime client contact me recently about finishing up a website for one of his clients (he’s a business coach) that their graphic design firm had started and was calling “95% done”. Normally I shy away from this kind of thing because much of the time it ends up being more hassle than what I can conscientiously charge for. Such turned out to be the case with this project, but I consented to take a look as a favor.
The website looked pretty good, at first glance. Attractive, well laid-out, great use of color and graphic design standards. That is, it looked pretty good on a desktop machine and a big, fat 27″ monitor.
When I pulled out my tablet to take a look, all I could do was shake my head and think, “oh, no.”
It looked terrible. Atrocious. Gag-me-with-a-spoon bad. The GD firm had taken an off-the-shelf, do-everything (supposedly) theme from some theme factory and tried to shoehorn their design into it. They did a decent job, as far as the desktop machine view went. But on any screen smaller than that it was horrible — graphics overflowed the screen edges, graphic text was too small to read, form fields didn’t match, the menu didn’t work, on and on.
This sort of thing has been my experience with too many specialized graphic design firms that still live in the old days. It’s where the stereotype was born, at least among web professionals. Graphic design firms can be fantastically good at graphic design, but totally suck when it comes to building a modern website. In the old days, a GD firm designed a site in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, then used something like Macromedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver to make a website out of it. In the old days, this worked well. Not so much anymore.
Nowadays, it takes solid knowledge of graphic design and programming to build a functional modern-day website that does what it’s supposed to across an array of different devices. That’s why Taughnee and I make such a great team — she supplies fabulous graphic and user interface design, and I turn her vision into functional reality.
My longtime client’s client is now in the position of having to shell out a goodly amount of money to fix problems that should have never happened in the first place, or own a website that doesn’t provide an optimal experience to a huge percentage of her visitors. Not an enviable position to be in, is it? Rock and a hard place sort of thing.
I was going to ask the question, “would you have your graphic designer do a tattoo for you just because they were a good designer?” and provide a pictorial example or two, but what I found was just too gruesome. You get the idea, though.