How not to treat your designer

Rachel Cunliffe’s last remarks concerning the latest buzz surrounding the TechCrunch redesign:

I have just resigned as the designer for TechCrunch after the redesign sagas and the latest post on CrunchNotes.

The post, or should I say, slap in the face? Michael Arrington’s decision to post a screenshot by a second designer on CrunchNotes.

  • Mike envisions a new look for TechCrunch
  • Rachel delivers
  • Blog world mimics grade school cafeteria food fight with comments ranting and raving regarding the “money hungry” look of TechCrunch.
  • Rachel defends her case that the look is exactly as Mike envisioned: Design is incredibly personal and I’m not taking the negative comments to heart because I know I’ve created what my client had in mind and wanted – layout, ads, exact colors and format.
  • Mike slaps Rachel
  • Rachel resigns as the TechCrunch designer

Not knowing the sordid details, or whether or not Mike gave Rachel the heads up concerning his decision to flaunt a second designers “redux” of the layout, I would find it hard to believe anyone would have a valid defense for the CrunchNote post. Sure, light tweaks here and there happen throughout the life of a design, but why so soon? Why decide to openly flaunt – belittling a respected designers work – with a second mockup?

Discuss - 21 Comments

  1. Jesse says:

    The word “class” apparently has no meaning for Mike. Pity he didn’t just listen to his designer and let her make something nice in the first place.

    Also pretty lame of the designer who sent in the mockup. I thought that was also poor taste

  2. Derek says:

    I wouldn’t blame Jeremy Baines for sending in his version of the current TC. I think it’s only natural for a designer to try and gain a little recognition for their own spin on a design. Web design / development is highly competitive and it can be quite difficult to receive the recognition you think you deserve.

    However, the fact that Mike did post the screenshot without a care as to how Rachel would perceive the decision was completely low. Couple that with the fact that Mike openly admits that he plans to incorporate some of the ideas into the design. My question is.. How are you going to go about doing that Mike? You managed to get Rachel to do a 180 and resign.

  3. […] Rachel resigns | 5ThirtyOne | JOAB | Pearsonified | ProBlogger | Solo Technology | Names at work | Vox’s Bookshelf […]

  4. Crystal says:

    Rachel’s “design is incredibly personal” reasoning is exactly why I don’t design. Even when I’ve done exactly what was asked of me, if the client finds something else they like more, it’s a huge ego crush.

  5. Mojo Denbow says:

    Speaking of designs…I need a redux. Are you available? Any help is appreciated. My website needs to go to the next level, the readers will appreciate it.

  6. Ben Gray says:

    Yeah, that was definitely poor judgement on Mike’s part. I’m not a designer so I can’t speak first-hand but I can only assume that if someone did something like that to me right after I toiled over their design it would crush me too.

  7. Poldo says:

    Sorry to be off-topic here, Derek but 9rules round 4 is open. I would wanna see your site amongst the best there is. Submit here.

  8. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1528″]Even when I’ve done exactly what was asked of me, if the client finds something else they like more, it’s a huge ego crush.[/quote]

    It is an unavoidable risk. From past experience, the situations in which mockups have fallen short will most likely outnumber situations where the first mockup is on the money. Ahem.

    [quote comment=”1529″]Speaking of designs…I need a redux. Are you available?[/quote]

    Use the contact form to get in touch. I am pretty much booked for the next month but drop a line anyway if you are interested.

    [quote comment=”1537″]Sorry to be off-topic here, Derek but 9rules round 4 is open.[/quote]

    Thanks for the heads up.

  9. adam says:

    thanks for alerting me to the situation, although i forgot i read it here first.

    i have to disagree with your first comment, though.
    while it’s understandable to want to get your name out there, cutting in on another designer’s _open_ (AFAIK) contract to do so is shameful.

  10. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1552″]i have to disagree with your first comment, though. while it’s understandable to want to get your name out there, cutting in on another designer’s _open_ (AFAIK) contract to do so is shameful.[/quote]

    I think it depends very much on the scenario. If Jeremy’s underlying intent was to undermine Rachel’s design, then yes, it was very much wrong. I would like to believe that Jeremy – or any other individual with input – that sent in “improvements” did so under the clause that the samples would be used as an example of what Mike did wrong in requesting that Rachel code in such a manner to make the blogosphere cringe with “what was he thinking?”

  11. Jesse says:

    [quote comment=”1553″]
    I think it depends very much on the scenario. If Jeremy’s underlying intent was to undermine Rachel’s design, then yes, it was very much wrong. I would like to believe that Jeremy – or any other individual with input – that sent in “improvements” did so under the clause that the samples would be used as an example of what Mike did wrong in requesting that Rachel code in such a manner to make the blogosphere cringe with “what was he thinking?”[/quote]

    Did you see the first comment on Mike’s post?

    He said “yeah, glad you like it, now if you’ll hire me I’ll show you even more ideas I have”

    In other words, he was shafting Rachel and her design and trying to get mike to hire him. pretty cheap if you ask me

  12. RM says:

    This is absurd. Not the fact that he posted a screenshot the fact that Rachel turned into a junior high hormonal chick because of it. I read the post and I walked away like anyone else should. He liked the design and commented on it. He didn’t say her work was not as good as the screen shot nor was upset he didn’t go with someone else to do the design.

    Give me a break and let it go.

  13. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1554″]Did you see the first comment on Mike’s post?

    He said “yeah, glad you like it, now if you’ll hire me I’ll show you even more ideas I have”

    In other words, he was shafting Rachel and her design and trying to get mike to hire him. pretty cheap if you ask me[/quote]

    Gasp. I completely forgot about reading that comment. I retract my support of Jeremy for giving “innocent” feedback.

    [quote comment=”1555″]This is absurd. Not the fact that he posted a screenshot the fact that Rachel turned into a junior high hormonal chick because of it.[/quote]

    Care to cite specifics supporting your claims that Rachel went “hormonal”? From what I have gathered, Rachel was acting very maturely despite the turn of events. No ranting or finger pointing. Nothing but a simple post stating her resignation. Given the scenario, are you stating that you would continue as if nothing happened? I am curious to know whether you have done any high profile contract work?

  14. RM says:

    [quote comment=”1556″]
    Care to cite specifics supporting your claims that Rachel went “hormonal”? From what I have gathered, Rachel was acting very maturely despite the turn of events. No ranting or finger pointing. Nothing but a simple post stating her resignation. Given the scenario, are you stating that you would continue as if nothing happened? I am curious to know whether you have done any high profile contract work?[/quote]

    There were no turn of events Derek. The guy posted a screen shot of a website redesign. He posted it because that guy went through the time to do it. The fact that the author made a snide comment about being hired is another topic altogether.

    The hormonal comment was a stereotype of how in the middle of the night she made a public statment of resignation without even talking to her ‘Boss’. How silly is that?

    I have and do tons of web design. My employer likes what I do and come back to me. If some random Joe posted a mockup of a site of mine my boss would say, check this out, I like ABC can you do it? Just like I’m sure would have happened in this case.

    I think you and the rest of the knee jerk reactions on the web are going overboard without thinking about it. I sure as hell am not going to tell my boss I quit becuase someone gets a screenshot posted. That is WEAK.

  15. adam says:

    [quote comment=”1565″]

    The hormonal comment was a stereotype of how in the middle of the night she made a public statment of resignation without even talking to her ‘Boss’. How silly is that?

    I have and do tons of web design. My employer likes what I do and come back to me. If some random Joe posted a mockup of a site of mine my boss would say, check this out, I like ABC can you do it? Just like I’m sure would have happened in this case.

    I think you and the rest of the knee jerk reactions on the web are going overboard without thinking about it. I sure as hell am not going to tell my boss I quit becuase someone gets a screenshot posted. That is WEAK.[/quote]

    a) she emailed mike first. apparently mike checks his trackbacks before his email. i’m just gonna leave that one alone
    b) it would be one thing if mike had posted that with a note that said “hey rachel, we should pick up these 3 elements” then it would just be a super-public design process. but posting it by itself implies that he thought she should have picked the stuff up previously.

    imagine if your boss posted a screenshot in the conference room while you were out, so all your coworkers could say how much better that screenshot is than what you turned out.

  16. RM says:

    [quote comment=”1566″]
    imagine if your boss posted a screenshot in the conference room while you were out, so all your coworkers could say how much better that screenshot is than what you turned out.[/quote]

    Adam, I see your point of view and agree with you. He said she said.

    To answer your overwrought suggestion that my coworkers would favor a third party design in my absence, of course I would be defensive in the matter. However, I wouldn’t resign in a third party fashion that my employer would have to learn of by visiting my website and have droves of acquaintances display a social ineptness of said employer in a distributed fashion. Point taken?

  17. adam says:

    indeed. she certainly could have handled it better. (at least waiting to get confirmation from mike before announcing it) but of the three of them, she probably has the least to regret.

  18. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1565″]There were no turn of events Derek. The guy posted a screen shot of a website redesign. He posted it because that guy went through the time to do it. The fact that the author made a snide comment about being hired is another topic altogether.[/quote]

    The first line of the post on CrunchNotes:

    Jeremy Baines sent me a screen shot of the way he would have changed TechCrunch. I’m impressed. There is a lot here that I intend to steal. Thanks Jeremy!

    Have at it. “There is a lot here that I intend to steal.” Possibly reaffirming that the TC redesign was very much Mike’s job, not Rachel’s. Granted, TC is Mike’s site, but the design very much came out of Rachel’s closet. That line alone negates any sort of “innocent feedback” aired out to dry.

  19. Miguel says:

    I think alot of you are missing the big issue here, both of these people, Mike and Jeremy, are missing something that any good professional in any area of business in the world knows, professional courtesy.

    Things like this always lead to a bad reputation in the business circles you work in, you may think your getting ahead, and at first you might, but burning bridges will always lead to you being on an island with no way to get off.

    I’ve burned bridges when I was younger thinking I was pulling one over on someone, and making myself look good, but in the end I looked like an ass.

  20. […] Looks like Mike Arrington got into a whole pile of trouble whilst I was away after shafting his web designer. Lot of coverage here, here, here, here and here. […]