When our friend Andrea Raisfeld sent us a compelling scan from Malcolm Gladwell’s piece Creation Myth in the May 16th issue of The New Yorker, we went online to find the story and explore its ideas more fully. In the process, the post we intended to write about the creative process turned into a post about bad design.
While trying to use the New Yorker’s digital archive (as print subscribers, we theoretically have access) we inadvertently encountered an avalanche of
ill un-considered technology. Our established password didn’t work, even when we reset it; the website didn’t recognize the email address we’ve used for years. Our first three emails to Customer Service went unanswered (There is no phone number for Customer Service on their Contact Us page). Then we began to receive robo-messages repeating the same instructions after each subsequent email asking for help. When we finally created a NEW account on our desktop, it would not work on our iPad.
Finally, we sent a very specific email outlining our experience and wrote HUMAN BEING PLEASE in the subject line. We got another non-sequitur robo-message, repeating previous instructions, this time signed “Shar”.
For ten days running, the digital New Yorker broke the record for website glitches, ineffective instructions, horrific customer service and pure wasted time. Bad design.
Our experience mades us hate a magazine we love. That’s REALLY bad design. But it also made us realize the simple key to good design (of anything): it considers the user.
We wondered how a magazine with such brilliant content could display such astonishing ineptitude in its digital edition; we speculated…
…that their web designers failed to put themselves in the reader’s shoes and test how the site actually worked…
…that perhaps they are trying so hard to protect paid content, they inadvertently created a miserly system…
Our techno-friend Tara Mann said simply: “They want you to read the paper edition.” Maybe so.
For solace, we turned to the trove of apt cartoons at The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank, like this one by the great Leo Cullum:
As for the clip Andrea Raisfeld sent, it is a quick, thought-provoking bit about how the creative process often works. It also curiously echoes the message of our rant: “The more successes there are, the more failures there are as well.” In any creative work, you need to hone and hone to edit out the mediocre stuff and the stuff that doesn’t work, and let the best shine through.
Related posts: annals of bad design: stove window
annals of bad design: light in your eyes
japan’s dark spring via the new yorker
if god had a blog (lol)
madan kataria’s laughter yoga: laughing as a practice