February 13, 2001 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Razorfish redesigns. Why does it look like MarchFirst?
posted by muta (25 comments total)
Razorfish was always my favorite old-school web design shop, even when I was working for one of their competitors. I'll miss the old site and the old look.

posted by muta at 3:34 PM on February 13, 2001

Can you please tell me what it means to be an "old school web design shop?"
posted by crunchland at 3:47 PM on February 13, 2001

Why do they look the same? Because they hired the same crappy interactive shop to do their $500K website. Is it any wonder why these companies loose so much money?
posted by alg0rithm at 3:51 PM on February 13, 2001

wait, Razorfish hires people to do their website? Does that make any sense??
posted by cell divide at 3:54 PM on February 13, 2001

Damn, that's hard to read. If you're going to throw that much text at visitors the least you can do is make it black and big enough to be readable.
posted by mathowie at 4:17 PM on February 13, 2001

Bad site. Parts of it never did load.

Interesting that they stick all their client-sniffing stuff right in the URL ("http://www.razorfish.com/razorfish/home.cfm?isFlash=true&isNS=false&isIE=true&isMAC=true&isPC=false&bBrowserCheck=1&bVersion=5"). There's got to be a more, ahem, elegant way to do that. I want to see the page for isNS=true&isIE=true or isMac=true&isPC=true.

I always thought Razorfish was slightly ludicrous. Good visual sense, but style isn't exactly a scarce resources nowadays. "Razorfish Reports" gave them a sort of veneer of intellectuality, and were filled with Brilliant Insights like "There are two kinds of User Intelligence: impartial and un-impartial." But besides the usual random jargon grabs that pass for research in business school, there wasn't much there there. Their new site shows them in all their glorious, pants-around-the-ankles ordinariness.
posted by rodii at 4:44 PM on February 13, 2001


I said old-school because razorfish was one of the first web design shops (started 6 or 7 years ago), and because--in spite of what they've become--they started out really excited about the medium and its possibilities. True in heart and spirit and all that.

Or at least that was my perception from the outside.

posted by muta at 5:14 PM on February 13, 2001

marchFirst's site was designed by VSA, here in Chicago.
posted by gsh at 6:17 PM on February 13, 2001

yeah... I had a major geekcrush on Razorfish years ago. they were Cool. whatever that means.

'course, I ended up having the same crush on Organic---and now I can only thank my lucky stars I never applied for a job at either place, because if I'd gotten in, I'd likely be on the unemployment line.
posted by Sapphireblue at 6:19 PM on February 13, 2001

Wait, lemme get this straight, MarchFirst - a FREAKING WEB DESIGN SHOP (used to be USWeb) hired someone else to design their web site?

Guess they were too busy losing 6.8 BILLION DOLLARS in the 4th quarter to do their own site.

Really, what does it take to lose that much money? I don't think I go could go through that much cash in 3 months if I was setting it on fire.
posted by Bluecoat93 at 7:21 PM on February 13, 2001

Flying from SF to Chicago a coupla months ago, I watched one of those CBS special reports that they show on the plane (hafta watch something to keep myself from thinking about plummeting to my death). It was about all these new dot.com millionaires, and featured the founders of RazorFish quite prominently.

While they may be a decent shop, those two irritated me to no end - as a designer, their arrogance made me somewhat ashamed of what I do for a living (knock on wood that I'll be able to continue doing it).

As for the site - I can't say that I'm all that impressed. I hate seeing a site built with 100 proof flash when it could just as easily have been produced with HTML.
posted by aladfar at 7:58 PM on February 13, 2001

Considering some of the schlock we've seen recently, I don't think they did that bad of a job. I was never much of a fan of theirs even in the good old days and it seems that they've remained true at least to the color scheme of previous incharnations (e.g. the green and gray). The text being on the wee side is probably the biggest problem I have with the thing (Mac with IE 5). Not terribly inspriring, not terribly terrible. C+.
posted by leo at 8:23 PM on February 13, 2001

local design industry gossip in chicago was something like: march first never had a killer content creation department since they rolled-up so fast (USWeb-->USWeb/CKS-->marchFIRST makes three company names in about a year...too much to swallow), and their internal perception of their identity was incredibly fractured for the same reason. so none of the designers could really get a bead on their visual identity. so they hired VSA to do it for them.
posted by patricking at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2001

Neither razorfish nor marchFirst would load for me. Seems I need this Flash thing. What's with these young kids now days? Back in my day you were cutting edge if you had tables. And you only used those if you were intersted in losing all the masses who limped along with the old AOL browser.

Then those dee-signers started using that <FONT> tag, and everything went straight to hell. Sheesh.
posted by idiolect at 9:21 PM on February 13, 2001

Razorfish have shown themselves, time and time again, to be loud unprofessional idiots. They are the most obvious example of a rich, shoddy, talentless webdesign company that I hope won't survive when this industry settles and starts to define some expections. I really mean that, they are a figurehead for dumbass webdesign and taking their clients for a ride. They embaress (darn!) themselves most of all when they're trying to patch their image and do some PR. Their 22 really-safe palette - utter bollocks (it's less). Anyone who's done any graphics related programming would know they'd missed bit depths and that their tests were screwy. Chuckle at their Webmonkey article if you want.

Mmmmm... bile in my belly.

I quite dislike them for the goofy javascript navigation too. I'm glad they got sued.

It's not cutting edge design to reqiure N4/IE4 to view a site. Not having a low-fi version when you have those requirements is just dumb... and I don't even necessarily mean to support old browsers - Opera 5 is current, definately more than Netscape 4, as is iCab - and forget the blind or disabled users - right?

You don't have to lick Jacob's holy feet - but these guys are just a joke.
posted by holloway at 2:06 AM on February 14, 2001

$3.8 billion = 6,333,333 Aeron chairs.
posted by crunchland at 7:42 AM on February 14, 2001

Wired Magazine had a fairly scathing article about the Razorfish founders in Sept. 2000. They came off looking pretty damned stupid, in my opinion.

I'd still like to know why Bust hooked up with RSUB... :P
posted by metrocake at 8:32 AM on February 14, 2001

For what it's worth, MarchFirst didn't actually manage to lose $6.8 billion in cash last quarter...I believe that most of that loss was them writing off goodwill from their many acquisitions.

In other words, when they had a ridiculously inflated stock price, they purchased companies with stock that was technically worth billions...and now they're removing all that "overpayment" from their balance sheets in one go, rather than having it count against their (lack of) earnings for many quarters to come.

Doesn't make them any less crap though.

Some friends of mine worked in their Powerpoint pool, and the stories they told made it clear that the whole system was mind-blowingly inefficient. Extrapolate that to the entire company, and you have an enormous mess.

My M1 friends all got fired recently; apparently the Powerpointers they kept were without exception the least efficient, least talented, toadyingest ones.
posted by alexfw at 8:36 AM on February 14, 2001

I remember RazorFish's early days, as well... and really enjoyed their edginess. That's definitely a thing of the past. And MUTA is right, if RazorFish linked to marchFIRST (or vise versa), I wouldn't know that I'd changed sites.

If they were going to emulate anyone, though, I'm glad it was marchFIRST. I love their visual identity.

That said, there are two misperceptions I'd like to disabuse you of: marchFIRST did not lose $7 billion last quarter. They wrote-off $7 billion... which isn't the same thing. Basically, they're telling their share holders that they over-valued themselves, and that the books were, if not cooked, at least toasted. It's good that they've made that step to correct institutional perceptions.

Next item... it's not uncommon outside of the web for creative companies to outsource identity work to other firms. Going out of shop for one's own identity forces the firm to really examine how they appear to the marketplace. Maybe it's rarer for web shops to do it... maybe the trend is shifting. It's just a shame that--if RazorFish did outsource--the firm they chose failed to build a distinctive enough image.
posted by silusGROK at 8:42 AM on February 14, 2001

... it's not uncommon outside of the web for creative companies to outsource identity work to other firms. Going out of shop for one's own identity forces the firm to really examine how they appear to the marketplace.

That, and an outside firm doesn't have to deal so much with internal politics which can kill a job like this. There's also the sense that the web kids could be doing more billable things than an internal jobbie that, inevitably, takes up more time and resources and blood and tears than a regular job.
posted by amanda at 10:10 AM on February 14, 2001

Razofish and MarchFirst be damned. I really, really miss Studio Archetype.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2001

i think i read something from clement mok in the past year along the lines of "the teamup between marchFIRST and archetype killed the studio." which i'll believe. the web business industries have never understood how long it takes to develop a thoughtfully-created piece of work...make that double for how the web has treated the design disciplines.
posted by patricking at 10:32 PM on February 15, 2001

Eh? marchFirst is the hellspawn of USWeb, CKS, and Whittman-Hart. Studio Archetype was acquired by Sapient (who also acquired Adjacency and Humancode).
posted by Bluecoat93 at 10:59 AM on February 17, 2001

that's right. thanks. i got the names mixed up; it's been a long time since i saw that interview.
posted by patricking at 3:33 PM on February 17, 2001

they still have this rsub thing. how long will that stay around i wonder.
posted by webguyphil at 10:06 PM on February 13, 2001 [1 favorite]

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