A lot of my job is about first impressions. People hear that I help make web properties work harder to meet business goals (hey, don’t knock it; finding an elevator pitch for content strategy is really hard!), and naturally, like a guest meeting a doctor at a cocktail party, they ask me to take a look at their weird lump, or in this case, their website.
It’s hard to be nice sometimes. I use terms like “freshen up”, and “sharpen”, when in reality I want to say “burn it, burn it all”, but generally people know they have a problem and are hugely grateful for and receptive to my changes. After all, they’re accountants and software makers, vets and B2B vendors, not website designers or content experts. If their websites are a little slow and a little drab (and not all of them are, we’re speaking in generalities here, beloved clients!), it’s probably not their fault, and certainly not their doing.
So there’s that. Today, however, I’ve been doing some research. I need some people to help me out, some graphic designers. I thought it was a good idea to kill two birds with one stone - find someone to help me with infographics* and to have a poke into the wider Irish world of freelance. I was, erm, surprised at my findings. There seemed to be a number of problems, to say the least.
You’re a graphic designer who doesn’t have a website of any kind. Your ramblings about Big Brother (is that still even a thing?) on Twitter aren’t very indicative of your skill or style, and your LinkedIn profile is a bit bare. Maybe you have all the business you could ever want, and my infographic breadcrumbs are an insult to your skills. If so, I’m terribly sorry, you get back to chatting to Jony Ive and I’ll crawl back into my hole. But I have my doubts…
You have a site, but the domain has expired, Chrome has a heart attack warning me about how dangerous it is, or you’ve taken it all offline to “renovate”. I get it. Life is busy. I drop off the horizon for months at a time, but I always make sure that if anyone searches for me, they get something resembling a result. For a dead link somewhere as visible as LinkedIn or a result on Google to end up with zilch, that’s extreme laziness or a lack of competence.
You have a site, it works beautifully, and…it makes my eyes water when I look at it. If you’re a graphic designer and your website is an eyesore, THERE IS NO EXCUSE. Making a website is child’s play. Making a halfway attractive and functional website, with the help of all the easy website tools and your, you know, talent for design, should make making a website one of the easier things you do in your career. My 3 year old is more artistic than me, but yet people complement me on my website all the time. You know why? I used a tool and then asked some creative people whose opinion I value to take a look. Job done. Style is subjective, but ugly ain’t.
While I was writing this article, someone commented that if my goal was to make friends with Irish freelance graphic designers, I shouldn’t write a post slagging them off, and I see where he’s coming from. Not all the websites I saw were like this, just…a lot more than expected. I also saw some awesome designers, and emailed the ones based in the West. I’ve got two coffee meetings lined up already, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know the creative freelancers of Ireland.
But those other ones? Yikes. Don’t think I'll be having a coffee with them, unless, of course, it’s to ask “what in god’s name were you thinking?!”.
WTF snowglobes by M I S C H E L L E. What could go wrong?!
*Got taste? Make infographics? Email me!