Category Archives: Creativity

Great Webpage Design

Chris found the WebDesignerWall’s 50 Best CSS Sites in terms of design. Take a look. My favorite is this one by Freelance Switch.

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Strength in Revision

It’s not too often that you see a designer really take major changes to a design, or better, direction, and really answer the challenge.

Thanks to Dennis for pointing the way to Brand New. This post discusses how VSA Partners designed a great logo for Chicago’s big for the 2016 . . . then had the rules completely changed on them and had to almost start from scratch. The result? Something even better.

Designers love to complain when direction changes. I don’t blame them. It’s frustrating, time-consuming and can suck the wind right out of you. But it’s the process. I think most designers would admit that it happens more times than it doesn’t. And while there are tons of reasons for it happening, the fact remains it is the rule, not the exception.

But sometimes, running free creatively within very rigid, even unreasonable, boundaries can be amazingly fruitful.

Progress vs. Inertia

Does a day go by at your office that you’re not reminded of the system, or process, or procedure, or protocol? Yes, they’re all important, but they also have one thing in common:

Their very nature is to create ruts and habits.

Say what you will, but ruts and habits don’t often produce new ideas. Tom says it much more eloquently in his post than I can. Especially these quotes:

 “The reason men oppose progress is not that they hate progress, but that they love inertia.” – Elbert Hubbard

“My point is simply this: the main enemy of ideas is not fear of change, but love of the way things are right now. Discomfort be damned.”

7 Great Designers I Know

Since design has been a popular topic on this blog for the past week or two, it hit me that I’ve had the privilege of working with quite a few great designers myself, and then I know many other great designers that I haven’t worked with. And with the onset of online portfolios and blogs, it makes checking out and admiring someone’s work very accessible.

When you understand how important a piece design is to your job as a marketer, and then you realize your role in it personally, and then you realize you can’t personally design, and then you meet someone who can, then you really, really, really appreciate these guys and what they do. And they appreciate you, if you’re doing your job.

Without further rambling, here are 7 designers you should check out:

  1. DennisCheatham.com: I’ve never actually done a project with Dennis, but my wife does on a regular basis. Be sure to check out his blog, too – he’s a great writer on top of being a great artist. I really like his logo design.
  2. Frogers.net: Again, I’ve never done a design project with Jeff Rogers, but I think his site speaks for itself. I have, however, played in a band with him – he’s a great drummer on top of being a great designer. And I’ve helped him move, and that’s always endearing, right? I don’t know how to explain his work – you just need to see it for yourself. I just know it’s good. Extremely original, refreshing, sketchy and organic. And good, again. I love this album cover.
  3. Raesea.com: Raesea aren’t just designers, but cover the whole ‘using the web to help your business’ thing. Design is part of that, but so is navigation, search engine optimization, email marketing, back-end architecture and programming and e-commerce. And they do all of that, and do it well.
  4. Brian Larney: I worked with Brian at AdvoCare. His designs are great, and the best thing about Brian is he always wanted to dig deeper, ask questions about the project, and pull information out of you that would help him. Which I loved. So many designers think they should just take the direction that’s given to them make due, but Brian knows when to ask for more. And it made everything easier for both of us. Here’s a product of one such conversation that I feel really hit the nail on the head (scroll down to the Alaskan Adventure pages).
  5. Hypnoweb.com: Darren Chorley and I worked on countless web projects. He’s a wonderfully gifted designer, and he knows how to work in a time crunch (and trust me, he was tested on that front more than once). I can’t sing his praises enough, and I can’t be more impressed with the work at this site.
  6. DanielPitner.com: Worked with Daniel for a brief time at AdvoCare. I can remember checking out his original work from his resume, and it blew me away. Daniel takes a lot of pride in what he produces, and it is always something you simply can’t simply glance at. It captures you. And his work with animation is unbelievable.
  7. BusyNoggin.com: Like Dennis above, I’ve never worked on a project with Ron, but my wife works with him all the time. I have played poker and eaten fondue with the man, so that should count for something. I love how he lays out his approach on his site. If you’re interested in content management, particularly TYPO3, Ron seems to be the local guru.

So, for the other great designers I know that aren’t on the list, like Josh and Benny and many others – Sorry, but I don’t have your portfolio address. Send it along if I worked with you before – just leave it in the comments. That goes for anyone, for that matter.

Branding, Design, Blah Blah Blah

London 2012 Olympics logoThis is what happens when well-meaning designers go bad. Real bad.

Thanks to Gary for his interesting take (which is far too forgiving), and for pointing the way to Seth’s post on it, which is a bit more on-point, I think.

This is a logo, believe it or not. Probably the worst one I’ve ever seen. And someone was paid a lot of money to come up with it.

And it’s for the 2012 Olympics.

I honestly get confused when reading through all the mushy quotes in this article about it’s release. I understand how designers can appreicate certain creative elements that the rest of us don’t completely understand. But someone has to put their foot down and scream “This is crap – do better!”

Prediction: the logo changes before 2012. It sucks too bad to ignore.

Beware the Creatives

Creative departments and agencies often won’t get it. In fact, you should assume they won’t. They’re wired to think abstractly, on the edge. And that’s why you hired them – to a point.

Sometimes the creative team can bully you into a certain design, certain copy, certain concept. They know what’s hip, what’s cutting edge (again, that’s why you hired them, right?). So while your gut might be telling you that a web banner with a skull and crossbones might not be the best choice for your new all-natural nutritional elixir, the lead designer can often sway you with talk of white space, font choice, primary colors and other stuff to make you second-guess yourself. They might even make you think that you’re being too cliché. Too old-fashioned. Not daring enough.

So here’s the point, Marketer: don’t allow your creatives to miss the forest for the trees (too cliché?). Don’t let their drive to be “creative” intimidate you away from making the project a business success. Don’t let their brainstorming turn into a natural disaster. And never let them convince you that they’re in charge. You are in charge of making the idea successful, and design is a piece of that puzzle. Albeit a very important piece, but a piece, nonetheless. If the piece they’re giving you doesn’t fit the puzzle you’re working on, get them to make you one that does.

A well-designed bad idea will be nominally successful at best. Focus on the idea. Focus on the end-goal. When the starting point and the ending point are clear, you can confidently lead all your supporters (esp. the creatives) toward that goal with ample latitude but with a resoluteness that is essential to anything substantial. And that’s what they’re looking for, Marketer.

p.s. The creatives are actually a big part of your success, so don’t completely ignore them. That’s another post, though.