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July 14, 2011

Who's the best?

Detail of questionnaireYesterday I sent this letter to 80+ web design professionals in Cleveland:

Friends & colleagues:

Here's my dilemma: If I ask a roomful of Visual Communication students "Who's your favorite film director?" 4-5 hands go up immediately. The most enthusiastic shout "Scorsese, Spielberg, Woody Allen…" The more sophisticated may add "Kurosawa, Eisenstein…" But there's never a delay in getting a response.

Then I ask the same group of would-be designers "Who's your favorite graphic designer?" Slowly, tentatively a hand or two is raised. I hear "Paul Rand" or "David Carson." Maybe. Sometimes no one says anything.

When I follow up with "Who's your favorite web designer?" there's utter silence. Always.

There's something wrong with this picture, especially when you think how in any creative field we learn from (and perhaps at first even imitate) our favorites. They set the standards we try to reach, then surpass.

Surprisingly (or not), the Internet isn't much better than my students. A Google search for "best film director" yields many interesting lists, while "best graphic designer" and "best web designer" give nothing usable.

So while I can't change the world, with your help we can change one little piece of it: I'd like your recommendations for who's the best web designer in Cleveland. These are the people I want to tell my students to watch. Maybe I'll invite them to speak at the college via our Web Work, Web Wisdom series. Heck, maybe I'll even invite them to teach a class.

I really need your help with this. While I'm locked up in my ivory tower, you're out there working with real clients, real budgets and real deadlines. You know who's doing good work in town. Won't you please take a few minutes and add your opinions to our list of CLE's best web designers?

Go to this URL and say your piece: www.tinyurl.com/63dmf3b

Thanks for sharing your expertise and insights.

Al Wasco, Assistant Professor
Visual Communication & Design / Interactive Media
Cuyahoga Community College

The response

Not much.

In addition to this letter to professionals I know, I also tweeted a request: "Who's the best web designer in CLE?" to my 150+ followers, and it was retweeted several times to more than 3,000 others. And I also posted on Facebook via my own account and the Visual Communication@ Tri-C page. I posted the same question to several local groups via LinkedIn. It's safe to say that several thousand people have seen the question and the total number of responses is...

Get ready...


That's it. Of these, about half are people who've named themselves or their own company.

Not sure what to make of this anemic response. What am I doing wrong?

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