As BuzzFeed’s Russell Brandom pointed out last week,
uninvited redesigns are “the frenemies of the web.” And they’re
everywhere. But mocking up a slick-looking homepage only takes a few
hours. Implementing a design strategy across a sprawling,
multi-organization corporation? Not so easy.
You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives. It only takes a few hours.
That doesn’t mean that such exercises are meritless, of course.
Redesigning a big brand is a way to fill out your portfolio, and as
Victors & Spoils have demonstrated, a way to grab the attention (and
business) of companies that would normally hire elsewhere. What seems
troubling, in the grand scheme of things, is how these redesigns are
being consumed. In the ecology of the Internet, aesthetics frequently
trump content--designers looking for attention in the form of clicks
will shoot for something that looks good, rather than something that
might solve a more complicated, organization-wide problem.
Such behavior was demonstrated by another young would-be American Airlines designer, who published a public missive
against AA that called out their “hideous” site for causing him
“horrific displeasure.” To his surprise, a designer within AA reached
out to him, hoping to give a little insight into how a multi-armed
organization handles their web presence. It was a fascinating,
“You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives," said the
mysterious source. "It only takes a few hours to put together a really
good-looking one, as you demonstrated in your post. But doing the design
isn’t the hard part, and I think that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t
really get, probably because many of them actually do belong to small,
just-get-it-done organizations.” Unsurprisingly, he was soon fired from
his post at AA. On his blog, the designer labeled the AA employee’s
response “a cop-out.”
Kövecses’s reimagining does address the company in a deeper way,
making it much more successful (and interesting) than some of the other
more superficial concepts out there. And unlike many of her peers, she
doesn’t have outspoken ambitions to work for AA--for now, she says, it’s
simply a chance to show her chops.