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Squarespace introduced Squarespace Logo Wednesday: a service aimed at helping small businesses easily and quickly create logos. Naturally and understandably, the design community responded strongly in opposition to this idea–the same way we did when 99designs.com launched five years ago. Here are some responses on Twitter:
I just lost my respect for Squarespace. You folks know better, you are better, and I expect better than that. — http://t.co/kPtznqWnRl
— Jordan Butcher (@workofself) January 22, 2014
— Von Glitschka (@Vonster) January 22, 2014
I understand this viewpoint completely — but let’s try to look at it with objectivity:
Squarespace is a startup with a compelling product — and like any startup, they need to make decisions and build products that contribute to their growth.
This move is not an attempt to replace or offend professional designers. Rather, it’s aimed at small businesses who can’t afford a logo or do not understand the value of it. Instead of being pessimistic in thinking this hurts the industry, I believe it helps. The individuals who don’t understand or appreciate the value of a good logo should go do it themselves. Perhaps this act of DIY will give an appreciation for our craft. Perhaps it’s a stepping stone towards understanding its value.
Shelling out $2,000 for a logo is a lot, so perhaps this allows them to get their feet wet. As their taste, business and ambition grows, businesses will realize the importance of a logo, the value of a unique identity. At that point, Squarespace or 99designs will no longer be able to solve their problems. At that point, they will be ready to pony up $2,000.
As designers, we pride ourselves on being tech savvy — yet anything related to bringing about change in how our industry works causes us to go up in arms. In fact, chances are the professionals who most loudly complain against this service are the very ones who wouldn’t take on the clients using it. Why? Because their services are too expensive and these clients budgets: inadequate. But what can those clients do? Skip a rent payment so they can pay us? Or find another way to get their project done?
As we discussed this at Visually, Aleksandra Todorova, our editorial director, chimed in with the following design:
“As someone who is 100% design challenged, but may one day want to create some simple stuff around my alter-ego in the running/ triathlon universe, I think this is awesome,” she said.
Can any designer tell me what’s wrong with empowering non-designers to create decent designs? Are we so threatened that our craft will be made irrelevant by the very thing we love, technology? This insecurity causes us to go to great lengths to make our point. For instance, we compose badly designed logos using the tool, as if it weren’t our intention to reinforce our beliefs.
Years after the launch of 99designs, designers are more in demand than ever before. All the cries of it hurting the industry haven’t come to pass. Designers who’ve been around for a while should know this with certainty: our profession isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It cannot be replaced by an interface and a library of icons. Professional designers will always be one level higher, one step further and one thought deeper.
On a personal note:
Designers wanting respect for their craft should set example by showing respect for fellow designers. There’s a lot of painstaking work that goes into building such products. At the very least, be constructive in your criticism instead of ridiculing.