Unhappy Cogs in AIGA.org Redesign

Update: Since writing this I have read Jason Santa Maria‘s (creative director at Happy Cog) post on the AIGA redesign and he sheds some light on the project, and it’s something I’ve definitely experienced in my career, when you’re designing with what sounds like too many cooks in the kitchen:

The site was indeed spawned from a select number of templates. Because this was a small project for a big organization, we set out to help point them in the right direction. We created the overall design and a handful of templates for their crew to implement as what we were calling “Module 0”; basically a stepping stone in the process. So, many of the pages you see on the site weren’t specifically created by us, but were derived from other templates. Because this is a client site, there is an inherent collaboration involved; meaning, we obviously didn’t impose this site on AIGA, but worked with them to get to where they wanted to be. This new design, though you may not feel the same way about it as you did the last one, reflect the direction AIGA is headed. So, the responsibility for this site lies with Happy Cog, AIGA, and our associated working partners.

from The Many Faces of AIGA by Andy Rutledge:

I don’t write many “posts,” but rather try instead to write substantive articles. With the redesign of AIGA’s website, however, I’m compelled to say something so that students of design don’t once again swallow AIGA’s tripe for sweet cream. This design is an abomination.

I comely agree with Andy. What happened AIGA?! Looking at the new AIGA.org is like chewing on paper, just no flavor, nothing. Yes, I know its wonderful that they’re using these amazing little “divs” instead of tables, but I’ll tell, they should have spent more time on making a design with some clarity than they probably spent obsessing on CSS.
Jeffrey Zeldman (founder and creative director of Happy Cog who redesigned AIGA.org) always has struck me as someone like Hillman Curtis – a person whom I appreciate more for his non-design related work than I do for his design accomplishments. There’s no doubt both of these men know how to design, but that’s not where they shine. Both of these guys have produced great books and know how to write, how to articulate their thoughts and that’s very important.
I’ll remember Zeldman for his blog, his book Designing With Web Standards, his publication A List Apart and his conference, An Event Apart.
Will I remember him for his redesign of AIGA.org …unfortunately, I think I will.