Design View | Articles and opinion on design professionalism, technique and culture by Andy Rutledge

The Many Faces of AIGA

March 2, 2007

I don’t write many “posts,” but rather try instead to write substantive articles. With the redesign of AIGA’s website, however, I’m compelled to say something so that students of design don’t once again swallow AIGA’s tripe for sweet cream. This design is an abomination.

Anyone who has read my articles knows that I’m no fan of AIGA. Most of my contempt for the organization stems from their rhetoric, ideals, and organizational actions. As an interactive designer, some of my disdain for them has, of course, been due to the unprofessional and myopic approach they’ve taken toward their own websites.

As of yesterday (3/1/07), they redesigned their primary site The markup is certainly a vast improvement over the kludge they had before (even so, I’ve still not taken a hard look at it), but now they seem to have abandoned any reference to advisable graphic design. For instance, here are a couple of interesting stats regarding the new design (just on the main page):

Have a look at some of the mishmash that passes for AIGA typography – from only the main page:

AIGA mishmash

UPDATE: As some were mistaking this image to be a screenshot of the site's composition, this image has been edited to show the distinct elements – each is from a different area of the page/layout.

Unbelieveable. Some of the worst sites on the Web have less chaos in the typography than AIGA’s new site. This is nothing short of ridiculous.

I’ve heard a rumor that one highly regarded agency did the redesign deed and, given this agency’s reputation and prior works, I’m at a complete loss. The only thing I can think could have happened is that the geniuses at AIGA rode roughshod over the efforts of the design agency, creating the unfortunate result we’re confronted with today.

So, do I hold AIGA to a higher standard than many individuals and some other organizations? Absolutely. And they consistently fail my expectations at every turn. AIGA is the self-proclaimed “professional organization for design.” That tagline is preposterous and by contrast I think we should all thank God for amateurs.

UPDATE: To lend some clarity to my primary complaint with this design, I've added this image below that describes the typographic elements that, in their entirety, create a more chaotic design.

visual disharmony explained

Certainly there's nothing wrong with using uppercase and lowercase forms of a font in a design. Any one of these style pairs would be fine. Any two of them and things begin to get visually muddled. All three pairs is just too chaotic (especially when combined with a psychedelic link text experience). In my opinion, at least. In this case, the compound effect of all of them very nearly presents 7 different looks and amounts to too much visual "noise." It disturbs the design and diminishes the cleanliness.