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Bad Design and Bad Design Experiences

Bad Design Is Everywhere

Bad players in business are like foxes, smiling and promising while hiding plans to eat your tasty chicken body. In this analogy, I’m the faithful farm dog who dedicates itself to protecting you from those foxes.
I believe most graphic designers are proficient and ethical. On a professional level, a few bad players can taint the graphic design industry’s broader perception. However, on the individual client level—I believe that’s the level that matters most—a bad design experience is almost always an emotional and monetary offense. Even if I can’t make the bad experiences disappear, I’ve dedicated a large part of my career to ensuring better design experiences, one project, and one client at a time.
Too Much Bad Design
I’m continually amazed at how much bad design there is out there. As a graphic designer, I’m cursed to see it all. It shows up as color choices that assault the eyes or leave the sight-impaired scratching their heads. Often, it’s type: poor letter-spacing, awkward alignments, and mystifying font choices. The killer for me, though, is how many terrible logos and poorly-designed websites I run across. I can’t count the number of clichéd logos, logos that do something cute its letters, or logos that had to have been designed by a loved-one or an amateur.

But I can handle a world riddled with bad design. Bad design can be pointed out and corrected. What burns me, what brings out my fight, is learning about clients’ bad design experiences.

Too Many Bad Design Experiences

Bad design experiences come from a variety of causes. In increasing order of darkness, they are

  • Innocence/Ignorance: With the ubiquity of design programs that advertise themselves as DIY, there’s the appearance of an over-abundance of overconfident designers, or designers who believe they’re capable of more than they are.
  • Fudging: A designer can add to their portfolio pieces that they didn’t work on by themselves, giving the impression that you’ll be getting that quality of work. Alternatively, a designer can choose to show only the tip of the iceberg, meaning you see the 10% of the very best and not the 90% rubbish. Whether this is done innocently or in full knowledge, it’s misrepresentation.
  • Premeditated Deception: Though hit-and-run episodes portrayed by unscrupulous designers are rare in the scheme of things, they do happen. I’ve had clients who paid deposits only to be ghosted. Others worked with designers who under-delivering work and threatened to sue. Another client had her websites erased after a disagreement. And there is an endless line of similar stories beyond those.

To right the wrongs, my mission has always been two-fold:

  1. To always ensure good design experiences. Doing so gives clients a benchmark of what to insist upon going forward. It also improves the chances they will return to me for more design; and,
  2. To replace bad design experiences with positive ones. I have a chance to right clients’ perceptions about our industry. And, again, it increases the chances of repeat business.

Never Too Safe

Because I know not everyone can go with my design services, you’ll need to know a few things to keep yourself safe. I could write pages on this topic, but most of the tips I would provide fall into three basic categories. And, between you and me, only the last one matters.

  1. Look past the glitz of flashy websites, stunning presentations, and motion graphics for substance.
  2. Listen past the confident sales pitches, the thumping music, and the too-good-to-be-true offers for truth.
  3. Demand that all design expectations, costs, fees, dates, and agreement details are in writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s text, email, or contract. I prefer email so I can keep everything in one project-titled thread. When both parties do what they’ve agreed to do, how and when they’ve agreed to do it, and for the price they’ve agreed to in advance, there’s no room for a bad design experience.

Never Too Many Testimonials

Thankfully, I have created many good design experiences. Here are some of the testimonials from my many happy clients.

Testimonials

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