Yesterday I was asked to work on a redesign for our inter-office “Good Practices” manual. It’s a fancy way of saying “Employee Handbook”. It’s ugly, boring and no one wants to read it but every new hire is required to. I worked on my design, which is simple, clean and very usable on multiple levels. It features a different main photo, in black and white, for each of the six volumes (did I mention this thing is 6 binders worth?). Along the top is a semi-transparent strip of white where the name of the company and the name of the volume are written in a nice and clean font (Gotham HTF). At the bottom right corner is the corporate logo. That’s it. Super simple, super clean. Just what it needed.

The design that was approved? A 1990’s Photoshop collage nightmare featuring random bits of clip art mashed together and a large title with a Photoshop “metal” effect and drop shadow.

The reason it was approved? It was similar to what we had and they didn’t want to change it “that much”.

It’s occurred to me that if they were paying a design firm to design things for them, changes/rebrands/redesigns like these would be taken as gospel truth, handed down from the mountain. Apparently an internal art department has all the respect and wisdom of a bathroom stall.

Things like that make me angry in such a way that I want to shut down and deal with it tomorrow. That somehow my not working the last 20 minutes of the day represents some sort of compensation for their stupidity or perhaps some sort of mental rebellion against bad design as a whole. Or perhaps I’m just thinking too much about a cover for a binder that no one reads anyway.