May Day, May Day

Every year or two a fresh crop of internet blowhards decides design doesn’t matter. Indeed, they proclaim that bad design is good. Not merely is it good, it is the secret to internet wealth and success, they tell us. Whereas, they assure us, user-friendly, brand-appropriate, professional graphic design — or even mere competence — is the royal road to Failureville.

I don’t understand the siren song of this demonstrably idiotic claim. I don’t know why it seduces a new crop of assh*les each year. I only know it does. And then, just as predictably, all the year’s hot young new media designers get in a huff defending design against the fools who attacked it.

Seems to me it might be better to let the anti-design dummies rant themselves out and roll along their happy ignorant path in search of new things to attack. Such as air. Or babies.

Maybe I am jaded. Or maybe it’s hard to get exercised over inanity you’ve seen recur so many times. The assertion that “bad design is good internet” has been made by one set of dorks after another since at least 1995. One prominent consultant aside, nobody can remember who these blowhards were. They charged full bore into obscurity, as dolts generally do.

So to this year’s hot (under the collar) web designers, remember: next year, you will still be designing beautiful websites. And the people who claim that bad design is good? If they’re lucky, they will be selling apples on the street corner.

In other news

  • It’s May Day. Immigrants protest, and rightfully so.
  • It’s May Day. And that means a reboot.
  • It’s May Day. And that means a reboot.
  • It’s May Day. A day that honors worker’s rights. So it is only fitting that May Day was also the day of the Canadian Union of Public Employees website reboot. Happy May Day! Happy workers! Happy Canadians! Happy Cog redesigned this site.

In other, other news

Registration is now open for An Event Apart NYC.

In other, other, other news

An Event Apart Chicago has sold out. Whee.

Happy Cog redesigns Advertising Age

Happy Cog’s redesign of Advertising Age, the leading journal of the advertising profession, debuted on Sunday 9 April 2006.

Along with a complete visual overhaul, the redesign included a restructuring and repositioning. In the past, the print magazine was Advertising Age and the website was, well, a website. But with this redesign, the full editorial experience of Advertising Age comes to the web.

In a welcome message, the magazine’s Scott Donaton writes:

For the first time ever, the full contents of the current issue of Advertising Age will be available online for subscribers on Sunday night, the day before the print edition hits newsstands and in-boxes.

Publishing is changing, advertising is changing, where people get their news is changing, and how publications earn their keep is changing. The journalistic enterprise is no longer one-sided: magazines, while remaining authoritative, must also listen to their readers’ voices — and readers want to know what other readers have to say. On top of all that, there were tough decisions to be made about free versus paid content.

Happy Cog worked closely and intensely with Advertising Age to solve architectural, design, and usability challenges. Considering the vastness of the undertaking (not to mention the fact that all of us are still figuring this stuff out) I think we did all right.

Thanks to Allison Arden and Jason Schmidt and their colleagues at Advertising Age for the opportunity, the thinking, and the support.

For Happy Cog: V.L. Bowls, Rob Weychert, Dan Cederholm, Erin Kissane, and Jason Santa Maria. You are all made of stars.

It’s a new morning in adland

Starting in April, The Morning News becomes the sixth card in The Deck, our targeted advertising network for creative, web, and design professionals. The Deck is all about cost per influence, and adding one of the best written, most consistent and entertaining sites on the web extends that influence considerably. Limited advertising opportunities are currently available April through July.

SXSW III: Things That Were Said

  1. Jason Fried, the president of 37signals, had just finished speaking to an admirer.

    “It’s always guys,” he said wistfully of his fan base. “Never women.”

    Fried’s colleague, Jim Coudal, said, “Women come up to me all the time. They say, ‘oh my God, do you know Jason Fried? My brother LOVES him!’”

  2. Baby A__ , designer Jason Santa Maria and I were leaving everyone’s favorite egg-and-bean breakfast joint. We paused while Baby A__ and I negotiated the fine points of stroller and sippie cup maintenance.

    A guy with just a touch of yesterday’s ashtray about him, one arm draped over a parking meter, eyed Jason Santa Maria suspiciously.

    “You a Jew?” he asked.

    Somehow it didn’t sound friendly.

    Jason, who is of Italian American descent, answered truthfully in the negative.

    “Have a good day,” I said to the guy, pushing the stroller briskly out of his universe.

  3. A bunch of us had been dawdling in a sunbaked courtyard and now I was alone and late for the green room. Still wearing jet-black sunglasses against the Austin glare outside, I rode the long escalator through the airconditioned cool. Up, up, up.

    I was riding up. Others were riding down. My face was turned vaguely in the direction of the people coming down, but I wasn’t looking at them, and wouldn’t have recognized anyone through my dark glasses even if I had been paying attention to them.

    Suddenly, one of the people coming down was in my face, leaning across the up-down barrier to confront me.

    “Ya know me!” she shouted angrily. “I’m Mary! [Not her real name.]

    It took all of a cartoon moment. By the time I realized what had happened, Mary [not her real name] was twenty feet below me and about to turn onto a lower escalator.

    I could see by her gestures that she was furiously complaining to a companion about my perceived rudeness in not embracing her with flowers and song, or at least with a hello, as our bodies passed in the vast anonymous convention center space. That I might not have seen her hadn’t occurred to her.

    Off guard and off balance, I tried to rectify a social mistake I hadn’t made by calling down to her rapidly disappearing body.

    “Hi, Mary!” [not her real name] I trilled down the escalator, girlishly waving a hand in her direction. My voice was chirpy and strange to me, my gesture artificial and nanocenturies too late.

    So now there are two dolls in hell.

    There’s the Mary doll [not her real name] that breathes dragon fire and roars, “Ya know me! I’m Mary!

    And there’s the Jeffrey doll, waving girlishly down the vastness of an endless escalator shaft.

A List Apart 212: Love and Hate

For the Valentine’s issue of A List Apart, we asked you, our gentle readers, what you love and hate about the web.

If you love this issue of A List Apart, give yourself a warm hand. If you hate this issue, slap yourself.

Miss the deadline for submitting your hugs and hates? Not to worry! Join the discussions.

Four things

I blame Mark Simonson.

Four jobs I’ve had
  1. Writer for The Washington Post and City Paper
  2. Laborer in a PVC coating factory
  3. Art director
  4. Keyboardist (Yatz, Spoons, Pop Maru, Insect Surfers)
Four movies I can watch over and over
  1. Rushmore
  2. Swing Time
  3. North By Northwest
  4. Best in Show
Four places I’ve lived
  1. New York City
  2. Washington DC
  3. Bloomington IN
  4. Pittsburgh PA
Four TV shows I love
  1. The Office (Brit.)
  2. Arrested Development
  3. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  4. The News Hour with Jim Lehrer
Four places I’ve vacationed
  1. Istanbul
  2. Rome
  3. San Francisco
  4. London
Four of my favorite dishes
  1. Madras Rava Masala at Dosa Hut
  2. White Omelette at Penelope
  3. Sag Paneer
  4. Tofu in Spicy Ramen
Four sites I visit daily
  1. Coudal Partners
  2. Daring Fireball
  3. Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)
  4. A List Apart
Four places I would rather be right now
  1. Anywhere with Carrie, baby, and doggie.
  2. Seriously.
  3. That is my answer.
  4. Home best.
Four bloggers I am tagging
  1. Eric Meyer
  2. Tanya Rabourn
  3. Jason Santa Maria
  4. Greg Storey

A List Apart 209

In A List Apart’s year-end issue, Brian Crescimanno provides an extensive yet compact checklist of ways to make your site’s forms usable. And Molly E. Holzschlag stokes the flames of creativity (or of productive argument) by advising web designers to think outside the grid. The issue also features outstanding illustration work by Kevin Cornell and Jason Santa Maria.

Thanks for making ALA 4.0 great: Erin Kissane (editor), Dan Benjamin (system developer), Eric A. Meyer (CSS genius), Aaron Gustafson (production editor), Erin Lynch (assistant editor), and Damon Clinksales (data migration director). Thanks also to the people of TextDrive for hosting above and beyond. Thanks most of all to all of you for reading, bookmarking, debating, and in other ways contributing to A List Apart. Love on ya.