Where are the Women? Where are the Links?

Nothing delights web designers more than a friendly discussion on women in design and technology. One version of this perennial crowd-pleaser runs, “Where are all the women?” AKA “Why don’t more women participate in design/technology?” The discussion may then fault men for making design or technology seem “hard” or “unattractive”—as if women avoid doing things that are hard, a proposition that’s as ludicrous as it is sexist.

A more accurate variation on this theme acknowledges that there are truckloads of busy, competent women in design (or technology), and asks why women’s achievements in these fields go grotesquely under-reported and under-recognized. That is a fair and important question but we are not here to answer it. Nor are we here to address the creepy predatory behavior to which prominent women in our field are often subjected.

We are here because a postcard from the Art Directors Club alerted me to “The Woman Vanguard,” an ADC [Art Directors Club] Young Guns Live workshop and presentation moderated by the wonderful Debbie Millman, sponsored by Adobe, and apparently featuring the work and thoughts of some leading young female art directors.

That sounded good to me and might to some of you, too, so I decided to learn more by visiting the Art Directors Club’s website and potentially sharing what I learned. And there, hope shattered.

I would link to a page about this event if I could find one on the site. But there are, as near as I can determine, no “pages” on the site. It’s all Flash text (pixellated 1997 style) in squat little iframes. You are always, essentially, on the home page. If you’re lucky enough to stumble onto what you came looking for, you won’t be able to bookmark it or share it. I could spend an hour discussing what’s wrong with this site, but so could anyone reading this. You all know this. Why don’t the site’s creators?

The Art Directors Club’s site was designed by R/GA, an agency run and founded by visionaries. I respect them immensely as art directors and filmmakers. Respect doesn’t cover it. I am in awe of their founder and of their years of achievement in their realms of expertise. But they have no business designing websites, if this is the best they can do on behalf of a leading organization whose purpose is to recognize and promote visual culture.

Information architecture. Usability. Accessibility. Web standards. If you don’t know about these things, stop designing websites until you have learned. Competence in graphic design is merely a baseline; it does not qualify you to create user experiences for the web.

Every time I think I can stop talking about these obvious, simple truths, some crazy bad 90s style train wreck hits me headlong and makes me weep anew.

[tags]ux, ia, webdesign, design, userexperience, usability, adc, artdirectorsclub[/tags]