Think Before You Design. Please.

The proliferation of tools and tricks in Adobe Photoshop and other photography software has become abundant. This has allowed anyone and their cousin Frank to act in the role of a “designer” and design anything for clients. This has an interesting tie into something we’ve noticed over the past fifteen years and recently in the window of a downtown Stillwater retailer.

Over the years we have noticed a few camps in the world of design. Those who would like to see a more professional accreditation (lawyers, architects, doctors, engineers, etc). And, those who would like to see design move closer to the art influence in the discipline. I’ve come to appreciate the push and pull, knowing how Andy Warhol started as an illustrator / designer / commercial art and moved into the fine art community. And, from the other side, seeing what can only be described as really bad design decisions (think Tropicana a few years ago) having a negative fiscal impact on brands, people and organizations.

Then, I am walking down the street in Stillwater, Mn and find the image above in a window promoting a nail and massage shop. There it is, right in front of me. Someone has chopped up this perfectly nice woman and turned her into a strange two headed creature being pampered.

This is wrong.

This is not good use of Adobe Photoshop. This is really bad design. This is not good for the brand. This is not good for the poor woman in the stock image. Even the “designer” doing this work had to be at such a horrid hourly rate to cause them to not even look at the monster they created after the work was done. No one wins in this scenario.

The only good thing about this Frankenstein effort is perhaps it will inspire a minimum professional status in design. So, while we don’t lean hard toward a fully professional design world, we do see a place for minimum professional status. Something that will at least make someone entering the design profession responsible to “do no harm” when working for clients. This movement will help in the following ways.

1. Those who have been around long enough providing design advice benefiting their clients’ best interest and the interest of our global community will see a professional boost.

2. Those just entering the industry will see a path to professional status for themselves and the resulting value to their current and future employers.

3. Clients will have a baseline confidence in the advice and design work done by people with professional status.

4. Consumers of design (all of us) will see a progressive cleaning up of some of the false promises, a lessening of the eye carnage we see way too often and the discipline of design will take a place at the table with the professional class.

While this all sounds good, we’ll still have the “ambulance chasing designers” who do the work others can’t physically or professionally take on. But, perhaps we’ll raise the bar and stop chopping up young women like the one in the image above. And, perhaps, as you look around and see bad design like this, you’ll send it to us (info@capsule.us) so we can showcase the negative economic impact of bad design.

Vote for a more professional design future. Contact Capsule: akeller@capsule.us

Thank you for keeping your eyes and mind open.

About The Author

Aaron Keller

I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior and design? Oh, it’s on.


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