The ignored style guide

One of my greatest frustrations in my line of work is clients who ask me to create a style for them, and then ignore it. What is even more frustrating is that it seems as if they don’t even care that what was designed to look good now looks like it’s been through more surgery than Michael Jackson’s face.

As a designer, it’s hard to communicate to clients that design consitency is important throughout to maintain a professional image. They look at the time that it takes to do it and balk. Suddenly looking good isn’t as important as before because they hate production work. Come 2 weeks later in a meeting, they’ll all talk about how we should make “[x] look cooler” or “more like [insert names of well designed magazines here].”

And on top of that, the pipeline is five years behind the eight ball. Instead of using a elegant solution such as InCopy, we use MS Word. Microsoft. F**king. Word. That is how all formatting is applied. All edits must be made by hand, by a designer, in Indesign. Oh, the humanity!

Is it truly hopeless? How many designers out there spend all day pulling their hair out as soon as a client gets a hold of your creation and begins to destroy it?

  1. Julia says:

    Being a web designer, I have seen the rise and fall of may of the websites that were crap - re-designed, only to return to crap when Wally Webmaster or Sally Secretary feels they can not only write code, but now design as well. When I hear the words: “our in-house staff will be maintaining it after the website is launched” much like a Mother who sends her child off to college and hopes for the best - I know for certain the outcome will be either really great, or really, really bad - the sinking feeling and knowledge of blinking GIFS and slapped together pages will soon appear once the in-house staff figures out how to upload to the server and hack into code - I refer to this technique as “they need to pee on the tree syndrome” that many designers experience. VERY RARELY do clients know what good taste is - and furthermore when the micromanage a design it is the equivalent of me going over to accounting and telling them how to write spread sheets - but they don't get it. I feel that web design is the most tweaked and messed with projects I work on - since the web is essential a “live” document - I am torn between print and web for this very reason - the fact that if you design for the web, you are in a constant state of flux - but if you design for print it's permanent.

  2. Nikki says:

    I always enjoy when they FAX over their own drawings - like my client did today, and disregard everything we've talked about. It's so interesting how everyone thinks what we do is so easy for them to do - that they can "design" it, and we just magically make it happen.

    You can import copy from Word into InDesign, and then use your style pallates to format...you probably know that though...I'm not familiar with InCopy, but most of our clients send us copy (IF they send us copy!) in Word and we do it that way...changes and all! Every round!

  3. roboboshi says:

    Julia - There is always that client "I can do better, it's my site after all" attitude that pervades the market. When I was involved with the design of a certain <a href="http://www.nthp.org/" rel="nofollow">non-profit site</a> back in my <a href="http://www.rtkl.com/" rel="nofollow">RTKL</a> days, the initial design got so watered down during the design process that I felt it was a lesser design to satisfy the various personalities involved. It's been tweaked to high heaven since. I'm a fan of very clean and sometimes over the top design, and that doesn't work very well with conservative (in the non-political meaning of the word) clients.

    Nikki - as for the Fax, I've got that before. Like I can <strong>read</strong> the fax to begin with, let alone come up with something logical from it. I like when clients provide some overall design direction. That's needed to provide a quality product. However, the "voice-activated mouse" designer path is not what I'm looking to do.

    I know about the formatting with InDesign. The other "designers" at that client find that too lazy because "with Quark, they could just flow it and be done." Forget that it was Arial 12 point as a body font. it's just the same ol story...

    I'll remain praying for that pie in the sky...

  4. Iwona says:

    neat stuff! was just thinking this monnrig, 'i wonder if danielle of take heart blog was affected by the hurricane?' glad to see you on here!! (my, if my prayer requests have not increased by tenfold knowing people via blogland) ;)<3

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