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Holgers story confirms my theory that everybody is sometimes everybody else's idiot client, no matter the general smartness:

(…) a huge realisation for me: I had been the worst client, or in this case, customer. The prototypical nightmare of designers, developers and everyone else who works with clients, I guess. I pulled a “Make my logo bigger” on a proud bar owner and “messed up” my drink. More importantly, I (unintentionally) disrespected his knowledge of the craft and “ruined” his creation. I cannot count the many times clients have told me that a design needs more space here or there, that a red is too red, or that their logo for sure needs to be bigger, of course.

If needed, my drink would have come with a cucumber.

Just yesterday I had a conversation about this and how over the recent years I work on my reception of those 'client' moments. To me, the 'disrespect' part is the most important one. But respect goes both ways. Why didn't the barkeeper tell about the reason he didn't put the cucumber in when he handed over the drink? Does he assume it's common knowledge?

Or is it the 'I am the expert, trust me and my (hidden to you) decisions' mindset, that we as designers and developers often carry with us?

What sets Holger apart from others (and most clients, to be honest), once realized, he readily accepts the expertise and his own lack of knowledge in that regard, and even offers an apology and willingly pays up.

That pin is well earned. ;)

In a reply to Holgers reply to my reply to his post, Bianca (@bkastl) writes

In contrast to 20 years ago the creative potential comes from a different approach: not the lacking knowledge or lacking means to do things on the web with tech from 2019 – it would be easy to use them - but the limits you set for yourself: focusing on what is required, not using things that are known and convenient - it's heavy thinking, but worth it.

I really like this. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this ultimately is what "expertise" boils down to: In an ever-growing playfield of possibilities and possible solutions and tools, picking the "right" thing. As opposed to using whatever is the "hot" thing right now. Which sooner or later brings us to the current trend of pushing everything over to the client-side and JS, but that's a topic for another TweetCast episode, methinks.

 

In a reply to my reply to his initial post, Holger (@foobartel) writes:

(…) Yet, those frameworks have allowed their sameness to creep in, default designs to be seen for how websites “should” look like today. Even though frameworks were only meant for prototyping and as a starting point to build upon, they have made their mark in terms of design. With a lack of understanding of the craft and its underlying techniques, it’s difficult to change and modify the defaults, to be creative and unique.

The interesting thing here is, (speaking from an economic point-of-view) that this sets the frame in which $clients are biased towards what they expect a website to be. So it gets increasingly harder with each new "same" (everyfuckingwebsite dot com) website that launches, to work outside, to surprise and to sell that. (On a side note, have you read about the Uber and Lyft drivers who played the system by simultaniously logging out of the app; resulting in an increase in demand and a surge in fees? Maybe we webworkers could pull a similar stunt…)
And of course there's a myriad of so-called web-design studios who are making quite a good living out of that; selling the same website over and over again to different clients.
And there is a market for that. And in that market it is exceptional ungrateful to hope for honoration and acknowledgement of truly creative solutions.
Sadly, this market is where we are swimming in.
From the bottom the market is capped by the budgets that are available. Here, truly fresh and innovative things may be possible, but sadly for honour only since there is no money around. From the top the market is capped by the large ad-networks and enterprises; here large budgets are available, but seldom does this trickle down to small studios or single experts - in this market, creative decisions happened way up the ladder and we are hired for our (technical) skillset or because the ad-networks cannot provide enough woman-power on their own and have to sub-contract.

And why change in the first place, it’s what everybody uses. It’s tested. It’s trusted. It’s confirmed.
How could the masses be so wrong?

Coming back to the framework/theme "standard", I wonder if this really just is laziness, or if the rather boring "holy grail" look is like the frontpage design of newspapers, where some elements like the masthead have proven to work better under the circumstances (i.e. the display at the news-stand, where only the upper part of the page is visible).

We are constantly challenged by shifting technologies, but in the end the user, their device and their situation is what counts - and for most users, a boring, but easy to understand experience will always trump an "exciting" one where every interface element has to be learned and discovered anew.

May we live in an interesting web.

 

Holger's (@foobartel) post about this year's BeyondTellerrand Düsseldorf conference and the inspiration that transpires touches on a raw nerve for me.

(…) With so much sameness on the web these days, I would love to see more people dare, more creative outcomes and results, and more creative thinking, much more often. That’s myself included. (…)

I'm a graphic designer with all the formal education, with all the "creative" baggage and struggles that led me to study graphic design - an interest in illustration, street art, the skate culture and underground comics - and found my calling in the web. From the early/mid 90's, I gradually shifted from magazine and print layout, from illustration to html, css and programming. I dived deeper and deeper into what makes the web tick, and after more than twenty years in the front-line of conceptualizing, designing, building, and maintaining web sites I think I have a pretty broad AND deep understanding of the cogs and wheels involved. But. Every time I create something for the web, I have the feeling it is kind of dull. It works, it is lean. It is maintainable, scalable. Most of the web sites I produce live more than five years, some of them are happily humming along after more than 10 years.
And yet, often when I am confronted with ideas by designers who don't have that understanding of the web, there is this element of surprise and playfulness that I am missing in my work.
Maybe true innovation needs that element of ignorance that we so often call out and blame "the designers" for.
It is not that I, or we, always fall back to trusted solutions, no, but still, I have the feeling that while my work provides solid benefit for my clients, it kind of lacks the truly innovative and surprising moment. Interesting question is, and that's kind of what the conference planted, is it really that I'm not "allowed" the creative freedom in the bread-and-butter jobs or is it that I *think* that the truly creative ideas would be wasted anyway on these clients?

Definitely something to think about a litte longer.


It is amazing to have these webmentions flying in. All. Different. Kinds. A bookmark, in this case (I'm not sure if my site will display this correct, but the mention came in) - thank you!
Man, there's so much I want to do right now in the underbelly of my site... stoked.

In reply to: adactio.com

Southpaths unite! ;-) Thanks for the repost, Jonas. (and a reminder to myself to add post images to videos), hehe.

In reply to blog.voss.co

Maybe it's just me, but there was a special mood in the crowd this time. More cheering when speakers entered the stage. More clapping after each talk. I don't really know. Maybe I'm just projecting here.

No you're not. There were several moments were I had tears in my eyes. Coming out of nowhere, but it hit me, hard. A feeling of belonging. I felt cheesy and open at the same time.

I am very happy to have you/your site back in my bubble, Bastian. And thanks for all the hard work with Kirby, and yes the irony is not lost on me that I write this thanks thru my WordPress install.

In reply to: Back From The Dead

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Testing a suddenly failing webmention implemention in WordPress 5.2.

For me the past felt like people defined the Internet. Today brands define the same thing I used to like.

And adding to that, people trying harder than ever to become their own brands wherever you look, while the behemoths of capitalism, the brands and their marketing, try so hard to stage as persons, friends even.

I already miss the small but always meaningful exchanges we have when we meet in person. *hug

Digital loneliness