Techcrunch & Flipping Burgers

BusinessLogs has a great take on the Techcrunch redesign.

A fair amount of digging and surmising comes to this:

What this says to me is that Michael gave her specific instructions on what he wanted it to look like (“newspaper-ish” comes to mind as a common client request), and although Rachel had her thoughts and ideas about what a new TechCrunch should look like, they were pre-empted by what Mike gave her as an instruction set. This happens a lot in client work, which I’m sure Rachel knows very well, and that’s the idea that no matter what vision you have in your head for a client’s site, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match their vision for the site.

To me, this is all to painful a memory. Designers are often treated like their skills are akin to flipping burgers at the local fast food chain. Why even hire a designer if you’re just going to dictate what you want them to do?

Most kids can build an html template, it’s easy. The skills you hire a designer for should be anything but the basic ability to piece html together.

Having said all that, I think he did a fairly good job on the ads, though some would clearly disagree.

Arrington could put 5 more ads on the site and I doubt he would notice a dropoff in traffic. The redesign would have to be a black background with black text before people finally gave up. You wonder why gas prices continue to go up? Probably becasue we keep on buying it no matter what.

A final thought from me: I HATE centered, fixed width designs. They suck to absolute high heaven and i always feel shortchanged by them. I would have expected better from such a site, and bearing in mind that Arrington appears to have designed this site and gotten some casual labour to implement it, I’d really of thought he’d have had a better grip on how to do such things.

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9 thoughts on “Techcrunch & Flipping Burgers

  1. With bacially the whole blogosphere watching and throwing in their comments on it, and Mike Arrington adding fuel to the fire, this would have been a very tough redesign job.

    I think Rachel’s work was great, as usual, and she has acted graciously throughout the whole episode.

    It’s easy to sit back and be an armchair critic about these things.

  2. heheh – sorry to give you heart failure Nick, I do mean a Flash front page as in a cover page for her website done using Adobe/Macromedia Flash.

  3. >>the “fixed width” bit.

    Fair enough 😉 Generally I’d agree, and I think some people would be happier to use fluid layouts if max-width was more reliable.

    Usually it’s more about having the control over the layout though, making all the fancy images fit together properly, which I’d agree can be pretty annoying

  4. Nick, thanks for the link man. Redesigning Techcrunch is a tough gig, and it’s made even tougher by the echo chamber that is the Valley’s tech industry, however I still feel that people closest to Michael absolutely needed to tell him their real thoughts and not their watered-down opinions. The worst thing you can do for a friend is not give them your honest opinion, and I think that’s what happened here.

  5. >>what’s the problem with fixed width centered designs?

    the “fixed width” bit.

  6. I do find it highly irritating to be given stuff and told “it must look like this”, when as someone who’s spent a few years on the web and writing HTML, I can spot flaws in it. I produce stats showing a high proportion of users using a high res, and questioning the text size chosen, because it’s tiny, yet I get ignored and told to make the test size smaller.
    Had to give a bit fo a lesson to one of the bosses who make deisgn decisions on resolution recently when he had problems reading his higher res laptop screen.
    He didn’t seem to get that the reason he was finding it difficult to read text on our sites was because he had no idea that etxt would look smaller at higher resolutions.

    And that’s just one basic example. I am pretty much treated like a code monkey, not expected to have any input on usability or seo (heaven forbid I have some knowledge of that) etc….

    One other point, what’s the problem with fixed width centered designs? If you’re going to go fixed width, I’d always make it centered, I get annoyed with left aligned fixed width sites. Complete waste of space on the right side.
    Personally think it looks a lot better centered than left aligned.

    I’d generally go for some kind of fluid layout when I’m given the choice though

  7. >>flash front page

    oh god spare us all!

    That sounds like “someone who knows about computers” not a designer though. I do take your point though.

    Saying that, modern designers, particulary those that work in the blogs space should know about such stuff. I dont know the designer, but I find it hard to imagine she uses FrontPage and likes table based layouts.

    I guess i should have made the caveat that you should trust a GOOD designer heh…

  8. You’ve got to trust designers… but they’ve got to keep you in mind.

    I recently had a friend ask my opinion on a proposal to create a website for her counselling services. She wanted a five page site. The design looked great except.. the designer was pushing her to have a Flash front page. Give me a break! I don’t believe in front pages at the best of times, but a Flash one even less – and esp for a business liked hers. The designer was losing sight of who her prospective clients are. They’re not going to say “Wow! She must be a good counsellor because her web-page is so flashy.”

    On the flip side, when I was project managing the creation of a site for a previous employer, I was working closely with the designer, and he had a good understanding of what we wanted (and was a good listener), but we seemed bogged down. In the end I said “Ok – go for it.” He created something perfect without being at all extravagant. So in that case, I was holding him back.

    So it is a balancing act. Designers can be like programmers who get all excited and tell you what you want, but the good ones will listen and accept your wants and needs, and if you step out of the way and let them work, they will create something amazing for you.

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