Ok, so I’m an old guy who has been in this business forever (maybe too long some would say). So take what I say with that in mind. And stop me if you have heard all of this before.

When I started in the design and advertising business, as an art director or designer you could not even get in the business if you could not draw. Everything was done by hand and the element of “craft” and principals learned in design education were essential to success. With the evolution of technology there are now a whole generation of folks (read between the lines: clients) who feel like they can do what designers do. After all, they have all the tools, right? Yeah. Right. Just like if you handed me a pipe wrench and pointed me toward the toilet that needs fixing. At the end of the day there is probably going to be a lot of crap to clean up. Having the tools is different from knowing the tools and, more importantly, knowing how to use the tools and the principals behind them. There are templates and formats and so many resources to “plug in” to these days, but without an understanding of why things are where they are, why they are certain colors, why the size relationships are what they are–and on and on–using these resources does not make for good, effective design. Like having a pipe wrench in my hand doesn’t make me a plumber (just ask my wife). It takes education, experience and sometimes just “having an eye” for what works and what does not. Yes, you can design your own web site, newsletter or brochure. But things like font choice, paper stock, brand integrity, etc. are design decisions best made by a real designer. Is the type too close to the edge? Should the photo be cropped differently to be more effective? Should an infographic be used instead? There are a lot of decisions a ready-made template cannot make for you. Do you really think it’s ok to just default to whatever the template dictates? Isn’t your business or organization unique? Don’t you want folks to know what separates you from your competitors or other similar organizations? Here’s a thought: instead of downloading a template, hire a real designer. And now excuse me while I call the plumber.

God bless.

Craig Thompson