Friday, October 16, 2009

You Can't Fix Stupid

Remember that phrase "stupid is as stupid does" from the film Forrest Gump? Well, my husby coined the 2.0 version of this phrase, "you can't fix stupid." One could apply this phrase to a myriad of issues...the Wall Street crash, American car companies, Bernie Madoff, "Speidi," etc.

Let me give the background on my husband's personality and how his phrase came to be. Whenever I vent to him about something that pissed me off during the day (I know, that's so unlike me), he will answer me with a succinct and pithy response.

This past week at work, I was drafting a communication that contained a URL to an internal SharePoint site. I clicked on the link to confirm that it was working and also to be nosy and see what the site was about. The site served its purpose (informing managers about the upcoming associate satisfaction survey...blah blah blah), but one thing stood out. And not in a good way.

There was scrolling text scrolling SLOOOOOWLY across the top of the screen. No, it was not a stockticker. And, no, it was not breaking news. Alas, tt was the title of the site and the dates of the survey. I freaked. What the hell was up with the scrolling text?!?! Dude, it's 2009! Scratch that, scrolling text has NEVER been a plus except for the two examples I mentioned. It's distracting, confusing, annoying, unprofessional, immature and not to mention, LOOKS BUTT. LOOKS ASS. LOOKS EXTREMELY AMATUERISH.

But, don't take my word for it. Jackob Nielsen, the foremost authority in web usability, includes scrolling text as one of the "Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design," which, by the way, was written back in 1996, so this is not a new fad, people. If you are interested, the list was also revisited in 1999. Guess what? Nielsen concluded that scrolling text still sucked. Okay, he didn't use the word "sucked," but let me take some artistic license here, alright?

Any web designer/developer worth his or her grain in salt treats Nielsen's research as gospel. My husby, besides being incredibly funny, charming and handsome, is also a web developer. I myself, though not a designer or developer, have worked more than 10 YEARS with those said people doing things like designing and developing websites.

In fact, my initial project at my first job out of college was revamping a company's website. At 22 years of age, I was given the task of cataloging the existing site's content, researching content for the new site, creating a feasible budget, timeline and project scope, finding a web development vendor and project managing the entire kit and kaboodle. Normally I don't like to brag, but I ROCKED that project! The site went from trashy to classy -- if I may paraphrase the esteemed Maury Povich.

I do digress -- and I do that a lot, so please forgive me. Anyways, my manager took the burden off my shoulders and replied to the client that the scrolling text should be removed and replaced with static text. I sighed with relief. I had panicked for no reason. Surely the client would take his advice and we'd all move on, right? WRONG.

She proceeded to tell my manager and I that the associate engagement leads (I think that's some kind of HR-type role, but not in any way, shape or form related to design/development) for the survey LOVED the scrolling text and wanted it. LOVED scrolling text? What, are they friggin' blind??? My manager, ever so smooth and diplomatic, replied that the text could simply appear on the screen once and then become static. The client nixed that as well. Scrolling was the ONLY way they'd go.

Now, keep in mind that this SharePoint site was created to house information that managers would access to prepare themselves in discussing and reviewing the upcoming satisfaction survey with their employees. Nothing on the site could be seen as news or stock updates. There was no value-add to keep the scrolling text. Well, besides that it was apparently loved by people.
I LOVE Hello Kitty, but that doesn't mean she gets to appear on any site I create professional content for.

I decided I had to help out my boss, so I scheduled a conference call the next morning to tighten up the communication and give one last-ditch effort at banishing the evil scrolling text. I have to admit, I was quite slick...or so I thought. I asked, "So besides, removing the scrolling text, do we have any other items to discuss?" figuring that the client would say yes and keep it movin'. WRONG AGAIN!

Here are the reasons she shot us down (again):
  • Scrolling text is used "all over." NO COMMENT. I CAN'T. I JUST CAN'T.
  • Scrolling text is used by news stations. Oh right, I forgot that we were working on Anderson Cooper's CNN site.
  • They worked so hard on the site, why slam them? Last time I checked, I am a professional doing a professional job...where did FUCKING FEELINGS come into play? And who's slamming anything? It's called CONSTRUCTIVE -- and in this case, necessary -- feedback.
My boss, sensing the conversation spiraling out of control, gave it one last attempt. He mentioned my company's online marketing team advised against using scrolling text and other unnecessary animation. Mind you, this is the same web team that won an award from JAKOB NIELSEN a few years ago for the redesign of our internal, global employee site. The client's reply? "Aren't those the same folks that don't like Flash and yet they use it now?"

I had to mute the phone and scream. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! Oh yeah, I'm so sure that our online marketing team said to never use Flash. What they probably said was to not use HOKEY, homemade animation like...wait for it...SCROLLING TEXT. The Flash pieces they have created are amazing and support the business lines appropriately. But, then again, what do we know? We're only the experts!

As long as everyone gets what they LOVE and no one gets SLAMMED, then la-di-da, who cares about professionalism, polish and presenting a results-oriented project?

1 comment:

  1. But... scrolling text is used all over! Not! Haha. Well written post, I felt your anger right along with you and I wish someone could set these people straight. It frustrates me so much when people are so smug about something they know NOTHING about. Ughhhh.