One of the things my team does at work is maintain and develop a set of five distinct but related web sites. They have different content and styles, but they have related material and the same layout and code structure.
One of the design elements that is the same across all the sites is that they have a row of buttons that link to each of the other sites. These buttons are graphics that consist of the name of the target site.
The particular implementation of this design element looks as graphically attractive as fornicating porcupines. I mean, they go well as a set, but no one needs to see that.
Specifically, they look (literally) like someone wrote the name down in marker, and before it was dry wiped it with his thumb. It’s horrendous — and they were created by the individual I have referred to in the past as my nemesis. She’s been gone nearly a year and I’m still trying to fix all the damage she did.
At any rate, until recently only four of the five sites were inter-related this way. The fifth one, which we were already responsible for, was a little more independent. But now it’s integrating with the other five. This means that before we had 3 buttons on each of four sites (no site links to itself, dur). But now we need to implement a fourth button on each site, and put four buttons on the newly integrating site.
That means creating a new graphic.
The new site has a very similar name to one of the previous four, so the name we were using is being tossed, and we’re using an abbreviation for both these sites.
So that means making another new graphic. Two in total, which is 20% of all the graphics we used.
My nemesis, naturally, did not bother to save a source file which could be easily edited to make changes or add a new button. This usually is something that would justify my low estimation of her competence, but this time around I was grateful. With no record of what font was used and a pretty small set of letters to work it out with, coupled with my inability to recreate the horrible appearance of the old ones, altogether meant that I had to redo all five graphics. Or, more to the point, that I not only had no choice, but that I could make graphics I could live with.
Another objective in remaking the graphics came in at this point. The lengths of the names being used varied from 3 to 10 letters. With the previous name set, the variation was from 6 to 10. So the previous buttons were all different widths, but not too big a difference. Doing that again was going to make some huge appearance differences.
So I made all five. Very simple, all based off a very easily editable Illustrator file. Took me ten minutes. They all match, they were all the same width, they all look good, and they all blended with their background better.
When I first put them out on a test site, it didn’t look good. It was like one of the porcupines was still there, but now he was shtoinking a jellyfish. There didn’t seem to be a reason for the apparent spacing variations. I could just crop them to the name length, that made it look like the jellyfish was really kinky, had convinced the porcupine to become a swinger, and invited an ostrich to the festivities.
So I put a simple one pixel border around each button. Voila. Now they look like five different objects all the same width, evenly space. It was beautiful (in relative terms, of course). I was complimented on how good it looked.
Documentation for the sites is handled by a different group, and around this time they asked for a copy of one of the graphics so that they could put it in the documentation. No problem. I sent it over.A few hours later, the troll wrote back.
I call him a troll because, honestly, it’s he reminds me of one of those dolls from the 80s.
He’s short, round, and I’m quite certain that if I stuck him on a pencil and spun him his hair would make a weird mess. Normally this just amuses me. This time, it was irritating. Not the hair, just the trollness.
And trollness he projected at me.
He started complaining about how the changes hadn’t been approved, and we’d have to send it through the stake holders. And how he’s “uncomfortable” changing the “look and feel” of the sites and that we’d have to fill out a change request form which at this time “we don’t have time to do.”
I thought, maybe this guys just being lazy.
But over the course of 10 paragraphs in 3 emails I was certain he wasn’t being lazy. He was putting far too much work into getting out of this.
I came to a conclusion: he was scared to do this. It was change. And he feared change. Because he wasn’t given explicit written instructions to do something, he couldn’t do it.
I guess he kind of had a point to a certain amount. I mean yeah, we don’t make changes just because we feel like it. Even if they’re necessary. But on the other hand, I was already making changes that were not just asked for by the stakeholders, but were REQUIRED. I certainly couldn’t leave things as they were. They had to change.
As for filling out the a Change Request form…. Really? You’re one of those people? One of the people who thinks it’s a good idea to create more paperwork? What the heck is wrong with you? That’s so foreign to my way of thinking that I can barely comprehend it.
Plus, I know what happens to paperwork around here. We literally changed the name of a document once to submit it as the necessary paperwork for a different project than the doc was created for. No one ever said anything. Paperwork around here is a gatekeeper. It’s not to accomplish anything usefully administrative. It’s to keep the faint of heart from ever asking for anything to be done at all.
And after all, adding the borders (or taking them away) was all of 3 minutes of work. If my computer was experiencing some sort of lag.
So we argued with the troll for a while. It was finally conceded that the borders had to go, and the troll finally gave a parting shot that “he had to explain this to the stakeholders.” At which point one wonders (or at least, I wonder) why the border couldn’t simply be part of that, since it was good for the design and all.
So in the end, we no longer have porcupines fornicating on these web sides. But it sure does look like some waterfowl defecated on it.