Posts Tagged "designers"


Take what I call the “thumb test.”

Cover a website’s logo with your thumb. OK, what site is it? Is there anything else on the page that creates a mood? Defines the company image? Makes the site stand out from other sites and competitors? Probably not. Unfortunately, that’s what most “website designers” do. It’s a layout more than it’s a design. This is why my slogan is, “Design, personality, and usability are the new white space.”

A typical “website designer” asks you for your logo, the colors you like, and a few pictures of what you sell or do. Very often, this “designer” is looking to you for direction and ideas rather than being a creative designer and coming up with something fresh. You’ll often end up with a website just like dozens that you see every day; columns, lots of things going on, especially on the home page, and maybe some Flash (please Lord no!). Or maybe you end up with a slightly-altered WordPress theme, and your website looks like zillions just like it.

Is that really what works best for your target audience, your company image, and the way your customers are surfing?

Raise your standards! You want more than website design. You want us to make sure that the site or app is going to be innovative, creative, and darn obvious to use. And I can help. 🙂

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How To Hire A Designer


Posted By on Oct 21, 2013

A friend who is familiar with my blog sent me this blog post. It’s called “How To Hire A Designer,” and this guy really gets it.

I like how he breaks things down to 4 general skill sets:

  • Outcome – Defining the intended outcome, the problem being solved.
  • System – Defining the components and features.
  • Interaction – Defining how people will interact with the features.
  • Visual – Typography, layout, and iconography.

He then builds matrices of what each design job needs. If you need a visual designer, then that job has high requirements for Visual but low requirements for the other three. If you need an interaction designer, that person is more about System and Interaction than Visuals.

He gets it. I want more hiring managers to get it. 🙂

I’d go one step further, and define things slightly differently.

I would not put Layout in the Visual box. I’d let Visual be colour, branding, iconography, typography, mood, and personality. Layout goes with Interaction. Often, when graphic designers change the layout from what I had in wireframes, I’m mostly horrified. I had so many reasons for doing what I did. And the artist is typically not thinking about psychology, natural human behaviour, or how people parse and group information.

I’d want an interaction design to be AWESOME with Outcome, System, and Interaction, and just “get” Visual without having to do it.

I’d want an artist to “get” Outcome, System, and Interaction, but be super killer on Visual, which is how he defines a visual artist job.

“A beautiful product that solves a problem no one has will fail. An ugly product that solves a real problem well can succeed.”

That’s a quote from his blog post. I’ve often said things like this, but I present them slightly differently.

I remind people that a GREAT idea executed poorly (ie: not user friendly) can still fail. A mediocre idea executed awesomely (great UX, good design) can succeed even if it solves a problem most people didn’t really have. For example, how many apps or systems DO we need for sharing images? Well, something about how they work is drawing people in even if people didn’t really need it.

Visual design, to me, is the icing on the cake. If you baked a crappy cake, the icing won’t help much. It still comes down to usability. I think that’s the true breaking point for most products.

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Contractual Matters: Confidentiality


Posted By on Nov 5, 2010

I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I was shown had a confidentiality section, but it was one-way. It only protected the client from anything I might know about him. There was nothing in there about him keep confidential anything he learns about me or my business.

The Solution: I told him to make it mutual.

The Discussion: He told me to just never tell him anything confidential about me or my business.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.

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I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I was shown would have me assuring that anything I deliver to this client has never been copyrighted or trademarked, in whole or in part, by anybody else.

The Solution: I told him that if he would like to budget for an intellectual property attorney to review every idea, then we need to get that into the budget. We can’t throw that in for free. We always do custom and unique work from scratch, and we don’t copy anybody. We are reasonably sure that our work is unique. But without having a qualified lawyer check into things, I can’t be sure that someone else didn’t have the same idea at some point, and would claim to own that idea.

The Discussion: He told me his clause stays.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.

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Contractual Matters: Idea Disclosure


Posted By on Oct 29, 2010

I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I was shown had language that basically said that in the process of working for this client, if I had any ideas that could possibly benefit his company in any way, I had to immediately disclose them. These ideas were then his property 100%.

The Solution: I told him that as a consultant, and especially a marketing consultant, I have ideas all the time… but they are for sale. I normally don’t just report every idea I have to a client without being paid for that type of consulting work. I suggested that if he wanted piles of ideas for me to put me on retainer. If I’m being paid, I’d be happy to be in constant-brainstorm mode, and hand him lots of ideas.

The Discussion: He told me he would not pay any extra for my ideas, and I would be obligated to give them all to him at no extra charge.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.

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Contractual Matters: Rejected Ideas


Posted By on Oct 28, 2010

(Back to our series on contracts…) I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I showed this potential client had a section that said that we will show him a number of design ideas. We are ultimately selling him one idea, revised and tweaked until he’s thrilled and approves it. He is buying this one idea off of us, and we give him all the rights he could possibly ever want to that one idea. Any ideas that he rejects or does not specifically approve stay as our property. They would be ours, and we can sell them to somebody else, do nothing with them, etc… Anything he doesn’t want is ours.

The Solution: He told me he wants to own every idea we show him. I told him that would be fine. We’ll come up with a price for ideas he sees that he wants to own, but are never revised, tweaked, or carried to completion.

The Discussion: He told me that he will not pay for additional ideas. Every design idea we show him should automatically be his exclusive property, and we would have no rights to it.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.

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(Back to our series on contracts…) I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I was shown was for this client to hire outside software developers. There was an area of the contract that defined software development. He just added, “User interface,” to the definition of software development. The rest of the contract continued referring to my work as software development when we were being hired for UI, web design, copy writing, and possibly some future marketing work.

This reminded me of when Schering-Plough gave me a contract in the 1990s for a website project. They had taken a standard vendor contract, and done a find and replace to get the word “website” in there, since that’s what we were doing. The contract ended up saying brilliant things like we needed to have a million-dollar insurance policy in case someone trips and falls on the website.

The Solution: I told him that the definition of work was way off. It should exclude references to software development since I shouldn’t be signing a contract that states that I’m providing software development services (when I’m not). I said that the contract needed to clearly define what Brass Flowers is doing for his company.

The Discussion: He told me that what he did was fine, and refused to change it.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.

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I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I was shown had language that basically said that if my client ever needed me to sign any legal document relating to the rights of the work I’d create, I am giving him Power Of Attorney over me. That means he can legally sign my name to any hopefully-relevant document, even if I’ve seen the document and refuse to sign it, and even if I’ve never seen the document.

The Solution: I told him to rewrite my rights section so that it gave him all the rights he could possibly ever need to my work, worldwide and forever, so that there is never any future document that might require my signature. I asked him to have his lawyer write something that was air tight and not vague so that he would be satisfied with his rights ownership.

The Discussion: He told me there is no language that can really give him all the rights, and he had to have that power. I told him I could not sign something that said that I agree that in the future, he can sign my name to documents I’ve never seen and might refuse to sign. I told him if that clause is so great, make it mutual. Give me the power to sign his names to documents I might need signed pertaining to the rights to our work. He didn’t go for that.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.

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