Brister's Blog
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Visual Designer vs. Graphic Designer

Recently I read a blog by Mark Boulton claiming that Visual Design is not a "thing". That it was part, just part, of a Graphic Designers duties. While I agree with almost everything Mark Boulton says, here is where I disagree: I quote "I don’t know a single good designer who would call themselves a visual designer, or what they do as ‘Visual Design’". I prefer to be called a Visual Designer. Is he suggesting that those of us who prefer this term are bad designers? I think so. His opinion is his opinion and he is entitled to it, however I would like to defend those of us who prefer the term Visual Designer with why I like this phrase more.

The word Graphic means several things, as does the word Visual, but in the business of design it means giving a clear and effective picture of a business to that businesses customer, as well as to a business's potential customers. This is achieved mostly through the creation of branding and marketing materials. There is more involved but I don't really want to get into every little aspect of graphic design or what graphic designers do.

The reason I prefer the word Visual is because it means a rough, preliminary sketch of an advertising layout, showing possible arrangements of material and perceptible by the mind.. Now I know that this seems to mean nothing, but think about this...what is a business without advertising? For a company to be successful it must advertise every aspect of itself and what it does. That is what I am about. Looking at a business as if it's a rough sketch and looking for all the possible arrangements it could be formatted into. Helping them be perceived by their customers and potential customers as the right choice in their mind. A rearrangement could help them discover all new target audiences that they have been missing, helping the business envision new areas of growth and catering to even more customers. This is why I prefer the term Visual Designer to Graphic Designer. I want to do more than advertise their products to their clients. I want to help them reach their maximum potential, reach their maximum target audience, expand into new areas of business and extend their customer base. I help them envision the future and help them bring that into a visual reality. So if Mark Boulton wants to think I am a bad designer because of the title I choose to give myself all I want to say is "I am sorry you're not a visionary."

Undead & Loving IT

Alexander Dawson wrote a blog on July 28th, 2010 titled "The Web's Undead". First, before we go into what his blog is about and what it says, I want to applauded this gentlemen for admitting that he watched "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and that he is an avid horror fan. Now, very quickly, let's sum up his blog: People use outdated browsers and designers use code and designs that are outdated. Then he suggests that designers stop designing for outdated browsers, which would force people to update their browser and officially kill that said browser and the code that went with it. Let’s go through each section of his blog:

Zombie Browsers - Now Mr. Dawson points out that we, as designers, have no control over what browser people use and I am glad he knows this because we don't and most importantly we shouldn't. We have no idea what software or hardware people are using, capability/willingness to learn new browsers (technologies more so then browsers really), and we have no right to demand that people upgrading, downgrade, use or purchase things.

Zombie Technologies - In this section Alexander chooses to discuss WML (wireless markup language), the first internet language for cell phones. Granted cell phones today can understand and display dynamic WebPages coded for laptops and computers, but designers are now coding WebPages specifically for mobile phones. Now that I have said that let me say this, currently I use a BLACKBERRY that was last manufactured in 2003 (the year I graduated high school). This isn't by choice; I just don't have the budget to support the purchase of a Smartphone or the insanely high bill that comes standard with it.

Zombie Code - Dear Alexander Dawson, it's adorable that you condemn the practice of outdated coding and then state that education is the only way to combat this evil practice. I recently graduated from ITT Technical Institute and the web design classes I took discussed and TAUGHT what you call outdated code. They also taught us CSS, Action Script and a bit of JavaScript. Granted lots of people say ITT is a diploma mill or a scam, but these are people who didn't apply themselves to the curriculum or have no idea what they are talking about. It's a decent school.

Zombie Design Practices - Have you ever walked through an art museum and thought to yourself "This is art?" Design is kind of the same way. It's all a matter of taste, and not always the designers taste; clients can sometimes force designers to create, display and maintain really ugly stuff. Let's take this website for example: I wanted an old, horror movie on the silver screen look for my website. There are tables on every page of this website, you call this an undead practice, I call it a hell of a lot easier than using some fancy script that will do the same thing. I like my website, my clients like their websites and even more importantly my clients customers like the websites I have created.

I want to share My Final Thoughts on Mr. Dawson's Blog. People make their living on having specialties, unique talents or knowledge other people don't have. What Alexander Dawson calls outdated I call a business opportunity. There will always be people who use "outdated" browsers that need compatibility patches, old code that can be updated, old technologies that can be implemented in new ways and finally "bad" design that someone can be paid to implement. Our job is to provide clients with what they want/need and make it easy for future designers to update/maintain. Our job is not to judge people’s likes or dislikes or even condemn or force people to use things that we consider better or more modern. However, I have noticed a disturbing trend among website designers and/or programmers to create bad/difficult navigation causing clients to lose customers because they get lost and frustrated. These are practices that I would like to see disappear. They continue though, because people say it's "cutting edge" or that it helps with SEO (search engine optimization). It's my preference to not use website with bad navigation or overly complicated design, but I don't care that these sites exist or that they get used.