A few days back I linked to the design saga around the TechCrunch Redesign where the redesign of this popular blog came under significant critique. The design was done by Rachel Cunliffe from Cre8d but it was pretty obvious that there was some level of different perspectives between designer and blog owner if you look at the post announcing the redesign by Mike and the comment thread of Rachel’s announcement.
Reading between the lines it seems that Mike’s opinion as the blog owner won out and the new design was something that Rachel was not completely happy about. Ultimately the decision has to come down to a blog owner on how their blog will look and Rachel took the gracious approach of saying things like:
“Design is incredibly personal and I’m not taking the negative comments to heart because I know I’ve created what my client had in mind and wanted – layout, ads, exact colors and format.”
To me this indicates some level of respect for Mike as a client.
Today I headed over to Rachel’s blog to find that things have taken a new twist. She’s resigned as a result of Mike’s latest post which features a design submitted by another blog designer saying that he’s impressed by it and intends to steal some of it.
I’m a little disappointed by Mike’s post and by the whole way the saga has been handled. As much as I think Rachel’s stood by Mike as a client and worked to his desires his post to me is a little undermining of her work. Perhaps some will say Rachel overreacted by resigning but obviously she’s had enough and is moving on. What the full story that’s led to it doesn’t look like coming out but something’s caused her to react this way.
I have seen some fairly full on critiques of Rachel and her work this week with some saying some pretty terrible things about her despite her working to her clients wishes. I’m amazed that she’s put up with the rubbish that some have thrown her way.
Having said this there has been some acknowledgment by some of her talent and I only hope that out of it will come cliental who not only appreciate her work but who are also willing to take her advice and expertise on board in the design of their blogs.
As I said in my last post on the topic I do hope this brings about some worthwhile discussion on the topic of blog design and doesn’t degenerate into a personal attack-fest. Hopefully the matter can all be put to bed now and everyone can get on with their business of blogging and designing.
Update: Mike’s responded to the situation here and the comments arguing both sides are flowing.
Hmmm – in the light of day I’ve got a few more reflections.
Before I start I’ll say that I’m a friend of Rachel. She was the first blogger I ever met that took an interest in me and she’s been incredibly generous and helpful to me over the past 3 years. We’ve worked on projects together and V and I have had visits from her and her husband and have spent time in their home in NZ also. Keep this in mind as I write as I obviously have some bias and write out of that – I’m happy to admit that.
Ok – here’s some thoughts.
As some of the commenters in this post have mentioned – there is probably some right and wrong on both sides of it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’m sure that everyone involved would like a second go at the situation.
This is all further complicated by differences in time zones – Mike is in the US, Rachel NZ – as well as that it seems a lot of the communication was done via email and in the later stages via blogs themselves (not ideal to resolve problems).
Perhaps both Rachel and Mike should have worked more on the design before going live and come to a better way of resolving the difference of opinion. Perhaps Mike could have better managed the launch of the design and the ensuing criticism that was directed at all concerned. Perhaps Rachel shouldn’t have resigned (I’m told she did it via email) and then directly posted about it.
Perhaps there are other perhapses…
I guess what I see is that there are contributions to this ‘problem’ that have been made from all sides (and by the rest of us commentating on the saga – I’m happy to be critiqued also).
Whether Mike intended it or not (and I doubt he did), he offended and hurt Rachel by posting about the design someone else came up with. Rachel’s reaction was extreme (although I’d maintain she acted with professionalism and has said nothing against Mike along the way) but it came out of hurt and ongoing frustration with the process and under the pressure of the moment.
Mike now obviously is hurt and angered by Rachel’s actions and I this needs to be acknowledged also. I don’t think that Rachel intended for that reaction either.
Perhaps both need to acknowledge some wrong doing? Or perhaps its best for everyone to back away and leave the smouldering mess alone for a while.
If I’ve played a part in adding to the mess I apologize. As I say above, I wrote about it partly out of a relationship with Rachel but also (as I wrote in my first post on the issue) largely because I think it’s an issue worth exploring (ie the relationship between designer and blog owner). More and more bloggers are engaging the services of designers and it’s worth exploring the issue as a result.
I’m not sure I’ve got much else to say on the issue now.