Art Imitating Life - Radiant

The Radiant Blog

Art Imitating Life

Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg

CartoonI personally am not a fan of the comic strip Dilbert, but there are definitely people out there who love it.

Undoubtedly they appreciate it because it lampoons so many of the real life work situations that we find ourselves encountering on a day-to-day basis at work and as a result, it resonates with us.

Recently, someone sent me this comic strip which is essentially a Dilbert for graphic designers. It’s a great poke at one of the challenges that we frequently face in our design consulting.

The face of the designer in this cartoon is what really strikes me because it’s a great example of the phases we go through in presenting a design.

Scene 1 - Presentation. The anticipation and hopefulness of a positive response from the client is etched on the presenters face.

Scene 2 - Customer Reaction. Eureka! The client engages the design and likes what they see!

Scene 3 - But... The wind is stolen from the presenter’s sails as the high-quality design that meets the project goals is chopped and hacked apart on the basis of the subjective preferences of not only the client, but also people who have been completely uninvolved with the project to date.

The disappointment and frustration that resonates with us in scene three stem from the fact that we always strive to ensure that there is a reason for every aspect of the designs we come up with. Beautiful design is a wonderful thing to look at, but if it doesn’t function to meet the real world goals of the project, then it’s a failure. And admittedly, we don’t always hit the mark and adjustments have to be made, but we do our best to mitigate against the risk of missing the mark by having processes and documentation around the project that maximize our chances for a “win”.

But for any project to be a win, both parties have to work together to develop and buy into the project goals and then apply them to the design. Pink might be a nice color and a turtle and a fish might communicate more about who you are, but pink might also limit who this logo impacts and four animals instead of two could complicate the messaging.

So, establish what a “win” is at the outset of the project and then work towards that goal. It’s the only way to ensure success.