Design from the future seeks our help!

Design from the futureSpacetron called yesterday. Yeah, you heard right, Spacetron. They were calling from the future… apparently. Actually, Eric at Net Connection landed this client and contracted us for a makeover. I laughed a little when I heard the name. I didn’t mean to. Just a little giggle. I wondered if they wear “futuristic” hard hats and their boss is named Mr. Spacely.

Spacetron helmet

What I imagine working at Spacetron would be like.

Maybe it’s because they use (air quotes) “lasers” for their manufacturing – that they thought the name “Spacetron” would convey a cutting-edge company. I don’t know. (Mind you, I feel I can make fun of their name only because at one time my company was called Rainbow Graphics.)

Not a very good example of Monty Python's 3D logo.

The logo was the first thing we thought needed to be addressed. Clumsily created in a 3D program of some sort; 3D logos haven’t been in vogue since… well… never actually. Well, maybe the Monty Python logo was pretty cool. The point is, the original Spacetron logo had to go. The look and feel of a web site is somewhat driven by the logo. As Alan Urquhart and I discussed it, our thought was that this logo was probably near and dear to their heart – so we didn’t want to deviate too far and I think Alan nailed it. He took the planet, which I guess had been “laser” cut into pieces, and instead of a concentric ring he cleverly styled an “S” for “Spacetron” into it.  By eliminating the goofy 3D lettering Alan actually created a logo that would fit in our “modern” world. I’m sure I’m way off base and in the future ALL logos will be in 3D, but the point is to look like you come from this day and age.

Spacetron logos, before and after.

Spacetron logos, before and after.

Once that was done, the makeover progressed fairly smoothly. Their current web site looks like it might have been created from one of those templates you get from a hosting company like Go Daddy.

The homepage consisted of no text, an odd amount of white space and an ad for a Personalized Stainless Steel Dog Bone ID Tag. I can’t imagine they could be paying off the nut on a gazillion-dollar laser cutting machine by selling doggie tags. We still kept the “space” theme, but added a touch of class with clean typography and easy navigation.Turns out they don’t. One of their goals was to try and attract more “commercial” clients.

Oh, almost forgot, their ultimate sin, the use of Comic Sans as their text font.

Spacetron "BEFORE" image

Spacetron "BEFORE" image

So Alan proposed a nice little java slide show of manufactured products they sold. Still keeping the “space” theme, but with a touch of class. Clean typography and easy navigation. We didn’t realize they had Live Chat until we clicked on the little graphic sitting all alone on the wasteland called their home page that says “Leave a message”, which really didn’t make much sense. Why “Leave a message” when you could have a “Live Chat”?

Proposed Spacetron website makeover.

Proposed Spacetron website makeover.

Needless to say, we figured this would be a slam dunk. And this is where my credo “The customer is NOT always right” comes into play. They fired back an email to Eric with some small changes, easily done. But the last line floored me.

“And last but not least, he wants to keep the original animated logo throughout the web site.”

First of all, the logo they use on the current web site doesn’t animate in any browsers we tested. It probably only works in their browsers from the future. More emailing back and forth and lo and behold they were able to find an animated version and promptly sent it to us. It is a marvel to behold!

Animated Spacetron logo

As if the original 3D logo wasn't bad enough.

Further emails indicated they were serious. Vincent Flanders and I lampooned this kind of thing back in the dark ages of web design (1997) in our book Web Pages That Suck!

Eric politely asked them to get some second opinions from people of modern Earth. I’m not good at that kind of thing. The jury is still out. Hopefully they will take our advice and bring their web site Back to the Present.

Ryan Northway - September 21, 2011 - 7:10 pm

DAMN that came a long way didn’t it! Nice job Alan & Mike!

Don Williams - September 22, 2011 - 4:25 am

I took JK by your studio the other day to see her sister. I was flying under the radar, or was trying. I was sitting in my car texting when I glanced up and saw this guy trying to put some trash in the back of his truck. It was heavy. My instinct said go help this dude. For what ever reason I kept texting. Then he was gone. A little bit later, this guy recruited help. By this time I was on angry birds. Another glance said, that kinda looks like Mike but way younger and in way better shape to be 50ish. Is that Mike?” Then I went back to angry birds. Talking to Jen later I realize that was you. I feel bad for two things. First, not helping that guy load that that big bag of trash. Secondly for not reaching out to you for a “Hey Man”. Sorry for being a dick. I hope I can make it up some day.

willisdesign - September 22, 2011 - 12:22 pm

Thanks Ryan. Hopefully they’ll skip the 500k animated Gif.

willisdesign - September 22, 2011 - 12:24 pm

Ha! Nice story Don. You ought to write a blog. You can be a dick all you like- just keep the compliments coming!

mari gonzo garcia - September 23, 2011 - 4:42 pm

wow that old logo was like black and white T.V. and the new one’s like, high-def.
you rock.
now redo my website!

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