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November 19, 2003 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Client: "People don't know what links are on the web yet, you have to make it blink and say 'CLICK HERE!' " Web designer horror stories from the last days of the dotcom boom. (via the Spinnoff forums)
posted by UKnowForKids (50 comments total)

 
Two years ago.
Three years ago.
posted by jeremias at 6:38 AM on November 19, 2003


Some people have weathered the storm very well.

Quality endures!
posted by kenaman at 6:41 AM on November 19, 2003


Perhaps because this is a triple post, there's some legitimate reason to keep repeating it? I'm not trying to create a rule of "acceptable repetition", just querying the general feel of Mefitopulous.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:58 AM on November 19, 2003


Her his justification for us turning the site posting this over to her hands was that she "knew some html"
posted by thomcatspike at 7:06 AM on November 19, 2003


Maybe we should have Ugo V. Re design a "Mission Statement" page for MeFi so multiple posts of this sort won't occur.

Oh, yeah...and maybe add some animated GIFs of dancing Pokemon.
Or even blinking 128 point typefaces. That's sure to get everyone's attention.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:07 AM on November 19, 2003


I just love the power pop punk of blinking 128.

pike!
posted by shoepal at 7:11 AM on November 19, 2003


All three mf posts have different urls, so there'd be no way of searching that. This is the first time I've seen this - it's wonderful. Wonderful. It's made my day. I can't wait to use my modified version of "stop playing art director and making me the monkey who points and clicks wherever you tell me to" line on a colleague tomorrow. I do all of the print ads for the company I work for, and brochures and flyers too (a florist/flower company), and a woman who does something completely different (she's the Wedding Planner!) keeps telling me that she "has a background in art" and so feels that she can offer unasked-for critiques of everything that I design. Whenever she gets a chance she comes into my office and looks through whatever new things are lying on my table and makes comments about them. And then when I tell her that I don't help her plan weddings and she doesn't need to help me design ads, she always says. " but I have a background in art - you should value my input!". Arggh.
posted by iconomy at 7:16 AM on November 19, 2003


A quote from the other side of the aisle. The funniest thing I ever heard a designer say:

Designer: Uhh, we'll have this done by your deadline and for the agreed upon amount...
posted by vito90 at 7:24 AM on November 19, 2003


"our web site doesn't load if I turn javascript off ... please fix this"
*sigh*


Sounds like a legitimate problem to me..
posted by salmacis at 7:24 AM on November 19, 2003


Beautiful! I couldn't finish the whole page 'cause I was crying too hard. One of my all time faves that I've received:
"That's great! Do you think you could maybe add a dancing monkey?"
posted by spilon at 7:26 AM on November 19, 2003


"Dude, I got you a CD of clip art. Let's make this site look dope!"

Word.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:27 AM on November 19, 2003


I want a landlord hat.
posted by iconomy at 7:30 AM on November 19, 2003


I actually think many sites would be improved with the addition of a dancing monkey.
posted by transient at 7:33 AM on November 19, 2003



posted by grabbingsand at 7:36 AM on November 19, 2003


Gah, sorry about the double triple post. I searched for the URL, not thinking that just because the site the thread was culled from was defunct, that didn't mean that no one had posted to it before. (Also, judging from the previous Metafilter thread comments, it looks like one of the previous postings was actually to a different thread on the same topic.)
posted by UKnowForKids at 7:43 AM on November 19, 2003


> I hate all the people who always have to tell us designers what has to
> change in the site and make the design all tacky again. WE ARE DESIGNERS,
> WE KNOW WHAT WE DO... d3hm. posted 10-20-2000

and all, all unemployed six months later...
posted by jfuller at 7:43 AM on November 19, 2003


My favorite has always been the "We don't have a high res version of our company logo. Can't you just take the one off of our website and pump up the resolution?"
posted by machaus at 7:47 AM on November 19, 2003


Caveat: I'm a web developer, not a web designer.

That being said, I have vivid memories of the CEO standing behind me while I coded, saying things like "Make the menu less curvy. Oh, that's nice. Can you put some curve back into it? Oh, to hell with this, can you make it look like MSNBC?"

...or meetings with the inevitable 50 people that all have to prove their salaried worthiness by disagreeing with something arbitrarily...

...or when the company spent tends of thousands of dollars to get a print-based service bureau to suggest visual options for our website. They sent us some mockups on 24x36 glossy presentation cards, and then wouldn't give us the originals, because it was still effectively their property...
posted by thanotopsis at 8:04 AM on November 19, 2003


"More fonts. Use more fonts!"
"Ummm... how many do you want?"
"How many do you have?"

...
posted by Aaorn at 8:16 AM on November 19, 2003


me to" line on a colleague tomorrow. I do all of the print ads for the company I work for, and brochures and flyers too (a florist/flower company), and a woman who does something completely different (she's the Wedding Planner!) keeps telling me that she "has a background in art" and so feels that she can offer unasked-for critiques of everything that I design.

Wait...wait...you mean...there's only one person who does that? You lucky SOB.

Not only do fellow (non-art-background) employees try to tell me how to design things, so do volunteers, board members, and random passers-by who happen to be in the office. And then they complain because it doesn't look professional after they tell me to "put a thick red border around all the images, because I want more color."

And then there was the time that I was doing mockups of new letterhead and had a board member complain "it's too clean, it's not fluffy enough."
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:24 AM on November 19, 2003


I can't decide if I want to laugh, feel disgust at all these clients, or sympathy for the designers.

While I understand how the "we're designers. we know what we're doing" mentality can cause trouble, why is it that everyone thinks they can play designer? I don't tell my auto mechanic how to rebuild an engine. Hell, I don't even tell the marketing guys how to design out print ads--even though I actually know a thing or two about graphic design. Why does every sales guy and marketing assistant think they know how to do my job?

I think maybe it's because people are naive about what goes into designing a site. I love this quote from the link:

Client: Why's it going to take so long [to deliver 20 redesigns of a logo]? All you have to do is put the parameters/varabiles/colours in, the computer will do the rest...

He serioulsy thought the computer, renders Logo's based on permutations I feed it...

posted by jpoulos at 8:39 AM on November 19, 2003


I wasn't trying to be doublepostman, merely pointing to the past responses. I've always liked this thread and remember it going up live at the Dreamless forum. It is a fascinating snapshot of the times.

My own version is a commercial real estate web site I was doing spec work for. The owner insisted on using the black and orange theme of the Harley Davidson website because he liked their motorcycles. I tried to rationally convince him that black pages were not the best choice for his business. The only way I got him to change his mind was to insinuate that Harley Davidson would sue if he used their color scheme. Dirty, but it worked .
posted by jeremias at 8:40 AM on November 19, 2003


Client: OK, I want this website, as spec'd.
Me: Great, we'll just need to work up a contract. Our attorney will have that ready tomorrow afternoon.
Client: Well, except that I can only afford $1,000.
Me: Um.
Client: Yeah, that's all that I have in the budget.
Me: Well, at $2,000, this site is already really, really cheap.
Client: Yeah, well, I only have $1,000.
Me: OK, well, we charge hourly, so let's just determine which half of the site that you don't want.
Client: Um. Well, I need the whole thing.
Me: OK, but the work is $50/hour. All of our work is $50/hour. So if you can only afford $1,000, that's 20 hours, which is half of the 40 hours that it will take to make this site.
Client: Can't you just make it...you know...faster?
Me: No.
Client: OK. But I need the whole thing.
Me: Well, you can have half of it.
Client: I have to go -- I'll call you about this later.

The next morning, I check voicemail. There's a message from the client:

"Listen, I've been thinking about the site, and what I really need is the whole site, but within the $1,000 budget. Can you do that for me? Great. Ciao."

He got the whole site. It cost him $2,000, the cheap, rich bastard.
posted by waldo at 8:43 AM on November 19, 2003


Wow, I remember when I posted that 3 years ago. I'm glad it came up again because it's still hilarious.

The Dreamless forums were awesome... I miss that place. Although, I did catch hell for posting a link to the boards on MetaFilter. First rule of Dreamless: You don't talk about Dreamless.
posted by tomorama at 8:57 AM on November 19, 2003


I read it and I think...arrogant little bastards. Who is paying for the project again?

My job is to deal with both sides of the fence and neither the web creators or the clients are innocent.

I can't tell you how many times a designer has come with 6 point font for a client base of elderly.

My favorite is the cutting edge designer who designs ultra-hip websites designed for broadband that doesn't match anything else the client currently has.

waldo: That's called negotiation. :-)
posted by Yossarian at 9:12 AM on November 19, 2003


BTW-Some are pretty hysterical.
posted by Yossarian at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2003


I read it and I think...arrogant little bastards.

Yeah, even though the "how many fonts do you have?" line is hilarious and explains a lot of 1999-era sites, there are still a lot of these where the designers seem to be just griping over having to do work they don't wanna do.

"uhm, a friend of mine saw the design and suggested to change the blue background into green... what do you mean it would take days to get it changed, how difficult can it be to change a color?"

Now, changing the background because some friend suggested it, that's probably a lame idea. But how the hell difficult can it be to change a background color? How could it possibly take more than an hour to do that? Even if you're using an image as your background, there is (and was, way back in 2000!) a "replace color" function in Photoshop that takes about ten seconds to start with, and then you can tweak it from there. Whiners.
posted by soyjoy at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2003


In the past five years, I've done a lot of website development and consulting work for one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. After completing the first mammoth project ($60,000 for a simple product-promotion site), having jumped through all of the FDA hoops, complied with the nascent FDA web requirements, to say nothing of working with the client's attorneys, the whole site went on hold just a couple of days after launch.

The FDA didn't agree that putting a link that read "Prescribing Information" at the bottom of each page constituted sufficient notification of how to access that prescribing information. In fact, they didn't think that any of the links anywhere on the site were up to snuff, because they didn't include the text "click here for". So I actually had to spend hours providing research to demonstrate that blue and underlined indicated a link, and that the overwhelming majority of consumers understood this to be the case. (There was, BTW, almost no evidence that this was the case. Nobody had ever done the research. I almost had to run my own UI tests to prove it.) Thankfully, with the limited evidence that I could provide, they bought it.
posted by waldo at 9:29 AM on November 19, 2003


But how the hell difficult can it be to change a background color? How could itpossibly take more than an hour to do that? Even if you're using an image as your background, there is (and was, way back in 2000!) a "replace color" function in Photoshop that takes about ten seconds to start with, and then you can tweak it from there. Whiners.

Easily. If you have a site with dozens or hundreds of images that cannot be clipped cleanly (say, with fading edges, as is common enough to do with photographs), then each of those images has a color fade within it to the assigned background color. If the background color changes site-wide from blue to green, then each of those images has to be redeveloped from source in order to have those nice fadey edges that the client demanded that will match the new, green background.
posted by waldo at 9:33 AM on November 19, 2003


They didn't want a definition of 'click'?
posted by mischief at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2003


waldo, that's a good nightmare scenario, and maybe is what the underlying concern was in the cited example. But they didn't mention any additional images. And if the images are fading to background color, they could as easily be faded to transparent, and exported to a transparent GIF. If there's too many colors to make GIF format workable (e.g. photo), the JPEG of the unfaded portion of the photo could be put in a little table with the GIF behind it as background for the fading edges. There are plenty of ways around this (more now, obviously, with the rise of CSS), and the point was that the real complaint (in this and some others) seems to be "we didn't design the site in such a way that we could change something if the client wanted it changed." So. Whiners.

Still, like I said, many of the others are truly on-point and hilarious.
posted by soyjoy at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2003


*sigh* The company I work for insists on all it's popup windows having a close button. Not the little cross in the top right, but a link that triggers a javascript. Handy, eh?

And the best bit? It almost always appears top right hand corner...
posted by twine42 at 10:10 AM on November 19, 2003


And if the images are fading to background color, they could as easily be faded to transparent, and exported to a transparent GIF

No, that doesn't work: not with GIFs, because .GIFs only support one transparent pixel color. It works with .PNGs (for browsers that support it), because .PNGs have an alpha channel. But with .GIFs, even when you have a transparent background, you still have to feather or antialias to a specific color; the one you intend to be using as your background, and if you drop it onto a different background it looks like absolute crap: it'll have a "halo" of the color you processed it to.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:29 AM on November 19, 2003


This is why mankind never should have gone beyond Lynx.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:30 AM on November 19, 2003


I'd never seen this before, thanks for the link!

It made me and a coworker laugh a lot this morning :)
posted by starscream at 10:32 AM on November 19, 2003


soyjoy: no, if you have an image which fades into a blue bg, for example, the edge pixels will be a mix between their original colors and blue. Gifs have 1-bit transparency, so you can't have, say, a 50% blue pixel.

So, if you change the bg color, you have to go back and re-generate all your transparent gifs.
posted by signal at 10:43 AM on November 19, 2003


I'm still cracking up about the landlord hat. :)
posted by dejah420 at 11:04 AM on November 19, 2003


Man, I remember reading these back in 1999/2000 while I worked in San Francisco and laughing out loud while I was at work.

I really miss Dreamless. When Praystation shut the site down shortly after these threads, I was searching for some way else to waste time at work, and I found MeFi!

Ok, I'm back from my trip down amnesia way.
posted by plemeljr at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2003


i'm actually one of the complainers on that page. makes me quite happy i haven't had to make a website for anyone in well over a year.
posted by totee at 12:27 PM on November 19, 2003


> the JPEG of the unfaded portion of the photo could be put in
> a little table with the GIF behind it as background for the
> fading edges.

Watch out, you get bitch-slapped good for using tables for nontabular data.
posted by jfuller at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2003


Hey, I gave props to CSS in the very next sentence!

But you guys are right. The GIF part would only work after the color had faded. If in fact this was the problem - the additional images rather than the background - changing them would in fact be a pain in the ass. I'll go and find some other example that will allow me to end my post with this word: Whiners.
posted by soyjoy at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2003


...not you, of course, totee. The "under construction" thing was one of the ones I laughed the most at.
posted by soyjoy at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2003


MetaFilter: putting a landlord hat on the landlord.
posted by Tubes at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2003


With Photoshop, a layer mask for the background fade, and a script or two, you could easily automate the process of redoing all the graphics that needed redoing, so it shouldn't take more than an hour or two.
posted by kindall at 2:10 PM on November 19, 2003


i work for a manufacturing corporation with locations along the west coast. The corporate designer is more a print media guy, but has been co-opted into doing the web work too. Im a grunt - i do help desk and the intranet site etc. He asked me to do some tweak work on the corporate site. On one page, he had an expanding menu, however he had a seperate file for each expansion phase - so i wrote him one with DHTML. When he wanted to make a change, he asked me if i could do it because frontpage would choke on the fucker.

they should hire me to do the web design work. :-T their design guy seems like he couldn't give two shits less about web work. He does brilliant print work. Yeah, they should hire me... and pay me more.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:31 PM on November 19, 2003


from personal experience:

The French word for 'font' is 'police'.

After asking a client about fonts, he cut me off and said:

"wtf would the cops be involved in this?!"
posted by titboy at 8:03 PM on November 19, 2003


eek, that is a trip down memory lane. I didn't even remember my own story from there.

I do miss dreamless.
posted by jazzkat11 at 9:27 PM on November 19, 2003


Him: It needs to stand out more. You know, something that really pops. [while making with the jazz-hands]

Me: Any hints on what you consider popping. [mimics jazz-hands]

Him: No, just do something else. I'll know what it is when I see it.

Me: Oh, playing the obscenity card, eh? [to self]

After two days of experimentation we moved from #99000 to #8C0000 for visted links on a white background. Hooray for in-house, hourly wages.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:10 PM on November 19, 2003


One of my first clients was the owner of a hair salon (referred to me through a friend). We had a few conversations about what sort of things the site needed and what sort of general feeling the site should convey. I made a rough demo and presented a few days later (not putting tons of time into it because I knew it would all be changed shortly). It was a relatively standard website, nothing remarkable at all.

When she saw the demo, she said "I look at it and I can see it all, you know? I want it so that when I look at it, I think I see it all but when I look at it again, I see more. You know?"

I had this thoroughly puzzled look on my face, I'm sure. So she follows with, "Do you like Dali? Whenever I look at one of his pictures, I always see something different. Could you make the site like that?"

I told her I would think about adding layers of complexity to the site, presented her with a fee proposal (too low to mention), and never heard from her again. That was okay by me.
posted by jmevius at 6:07 AM on November 20, 2003


The Dreamless forums were awesome... I miss that place. Although, I did catch hell for posting a link to the boards on MetaFilter. First rule of Dreamless: You don't talk about Dreamless.

eh, that was only after the "burning of the village". sigh.
posted by mkn at 12:15 AM on November 24, 2003


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