Our Real Nemesis

Subject: Our Real Nemesis
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 17:20:17 -0400

Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET> wrote:

>lately we've encountered another, seemingly more formidable foe: the
>graphic designer. When a client approaches us, it's not unknown for them to
>have already engaged a graphic designer to do brochures, annual reports, and
>whatnot. This same designer is often brought into the loop for manuals and
>other "functional" documentation, as well, and therein lies the problem. The
>graphical designers we've been meeting lately aren't well-versed in human
>functionality, although they're a better breed nowadays for balance and pure
>Our problems begin, however, when appearance contradicts function. To be
>honest, our firm isn't into graphic design and doesn't care to be. Our
>emphasis is on functionality; we farm out all our "artistic" things.
>This collision between beauty and function isn't new, but it seems to me
>that it is gaining strength.

I've complained about graphic designers myself, but, in all fairness, I
want to say that the best ones have a sense of functionality that is
every bit as strong as a technical communicators'.

The ones you're complaining about - and they do exist, and sometimes
they do seem to be the most common - are no better than the technical
writer who worries that revision will destory the beauty of his or her

As for the collision between beauty and function, I suggest that, in a
craft like technical communication, any attempts to divide the two is
based on a misunderstanding of the task. TC can have an aesthetic, but,
like any crafts', it has to be based on function to be any use.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Vancouver, BC, Canada
(604) 421-7189 or 687-2133
bbyfield -at- axionet or bruce -at- dataphile-ca -dot- com
www.outlawcommunications.com (updated 1 May , 1998)

"Yours is the open road,
The bitter song, the heavy load
That I'll never share
Though the offer's still there,
Every time you turn around."
- Stan Rogers

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