Ah, 1994. OJ’s low-speed police chase makes the Ford Bronco famous. Nancy Kerrigan survives Tanya Harding’s hit squad. Thousands of young men start rocking the “Ross Gellar” haircut. Good times.
Good times? Not entirely. Some things are best left behind. Forever.
I came home last night to an email sent by a former colleague of mine. Sometime last year we had landed a client in the beauty pageant business. It was an exciting opportunity to work up designs that were more classy and more fashionable than our ususal fare. My friend and co-worker, Matthew Esparza, kicked off the project by creating a beautiful Latin-flavored logo and the beginnings of a great client identity. By the time I was brought into the project to work up website comps, we had put ourselves into a very open, creative position. The design I ultimately came up with — while it may not be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen — was certainly classy, dignified, and a credit to the burgeoning pageant’s credibility. The work was significant enough that I’ve had it in my portfolio for some time now.
So when I read that email last night, you will understand why I cringed, laughed and wanted to cry — all at the same time. As designers, we take time to not only make pretty things but understand why a product should look the way it does.
It’s never pretty when 1994 attacks:
This is what the website used to look like, as I designed it:
You will note that one of the main benefits of this design is that it doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out with a spork. Nevertheless, someone involved with the pageant decided that classy and professional was kind of overrated and that their cousin’s kid could probably rock out a comparable website instead of an experienced professional.
I’ve experienced the pain of watching a carefully laid-out design be broken and misedited by a third party out of my control. That just comes with the territory, as does this incident. What is most amazing to me is the sheer — well, ugliness — of the work that has replaced my own. It’s not even pride talking, because we all know that no website really lasts forever. Change can be good. I just didn’t think professional organizations actually allowed work like this to represent them. Looks like I was wrong.