When I started working in the IT, fresh out of the academy with my knowledge about usability design and full of confidence that I could change the way of the on line world with my superiority. Well, as anyone knows who is working in the rat race for a while, we know how that ended. It does not matter if you are fresh from homeschooling or Harvard, everyone is first put in his or her place. And that is all fine.
My first full-time job was working as the graphical- and interaction designer at a major ISP in the Netherlands. How surprised I was then, that somehow so many people knew so much more than me. I mean this completely sarcastically. Sure, I did not know things back then that I do now, and I don’t know things now that I will learn in the future. But there were these 3 developers/network administrators working in the same department as me, and I could not understand their bitterness. Their constant ‘NO!’ upon requests and also their refusal to take on other work, even though I knew that they did have the time.
Flash forward to now… oh, how I understand them now. I have worked in teams in the past with people who all were not only skilled, they understood each others work enough to know what could and could not be requested. Even the programmer or I, as a designer, knew that very good ideas and life-savers sometimes were ignored because there simply was no time or money. And once you know that, and respect a team-members responsibilities, a team becomes strong and tight, and it is a bliss working in one and you learn so much.
Now, I have workedin those teams. Veeeeerrrryyy rarely. Because usually, well, my day goes by with me bashing my head into the keyboard just to make the hurting stop. That I try to fill myself up with coffee to see when the caffeine will finally do me in, or just walk up to certain people and simply yell in their ears for an undefined amount of time.
I can’t even imagine how Einstein must have felt.
Janitor: “Hmmm… E=mc2?, I don’t know. Sounds far fetched to me.”
Einstein: “Please, sir, it is E=mc2.”
Janitor: “Well, I don’t know. I think you should try QX=24.”
Einstein: “That is not even a formula! Please.”
Janitor: “I have heard that 42 is the answer to everything. So E=42.”
Einstein: “Please empty the waste basket!”
It is a daily routine that things are questioned that I do not even control and are simply proved after extensive usability research. That people for example want scrollbars because they see them in other websites too. Sigh. It takes a lot of work to make a very solid scrollbar-free website, then people want to have them re-introduced. Telling people that scroll-bars have only been invented as a life-saver when you do have more content that you can handle in a certain container that cannot have any other navigation system. That is why books do not have them, because that simple concept has the wonderful and natural interface of flipping a page.
And there are so many other things. I literally at one moment received the project if I could reduce the amount of bit-mapped code in an image without any data-loss, by at least 70%. Because the image could otherwise not fit.
And then there is just one possible reply: “AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!” Which, typically, was also the reply of the programmers/network administrators I worked with at the ISP now about 14 years ago. Guys, my total respect to you!
So, let me continue, put on my noise-canceling head phones and try to ignore every stupid request I will face today. Nice and professional 😉