Work

Not understanding the problem

There’s a cute little site here where a graphic designer rants a bit about the American Airlines website, and how if he had the opportunity to design it, he’d do it so much better.   That’s not the interesting part – people on the internet waiting to tell you how much better that they’d do things if they had your job are a dime a dozen.  I’ve had a least four different (highly detailed) emails from people since I’ve been at Marshall telling me why the work I did sucked, and how I should have done a, b or c if I had any clue about how things should work/look/behave.  Just in the past three months I’ve had two GAs who were hired to work in departments on campus deliver me detailed PDFs about everything that is wrong with a new design that hasn’t even launched yet.   You learn to let that stuff go or you quit coming in every day.

What is interesting about this site though, is that one of the UX Designers who worked on AA.com actually took the time to reach out to the guy (even after the guy had essentially called on AA to “fire your entire graphic design team”), and gave him a reasoned, well thought out run down of how the real world works when you put on your big boy pants.

The best part comes in this paragraph:

But—and I guess here’s the thing I most wanted to get across—simply doing a home page redesign is a piece of cake. You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives. It only takes a few hours to put together a really good-looking one, as you demonstrated in your post. But doing the design isn’t the hard part, and I think that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t really get, probably because many of them actually do belong to small, just-get-it-done organizations. But those of us who work in enterprise-level situations realize the momentum even a simple redesign must overcome, and not many, I’ll bet, are jumping on this same bandwagon. They know what it’s like.

And that, well, that really sums it up.   Doing site mockups, writing applications, developing new services, etc. – none of that is the hardest part of the job.  The hardest part of the job is navigating the competing needs of multiple areas of a large organization, each with their own wants, needs and agendas.   It’s understanding that while you may not agree, those wants, needs and agendas are still real and have to be considered that is part of the professional growth cycle that everyone eventually has to go through if they’re going to move from spec design or development in the spare bedroom of their parents house to working in a living, breathing environment.

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