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I'm a web dev. My boss is an outdated physical media designer. We're working together on a relatively huge food delivery web system.

He just keep coming with these poor and ugly layout ideas. Clearly web-outsider stuff. See image below and tell me if I am wrong:

web page image

I just can't let it happen and "just work and get paid in the end of the month," because I have a share of the company's profits, and well, I want it to be good. I don't want to just waste my time. Also, I'm just a programmer, not a designer, as he always reminds me.

So, guys, I'm desperate. Getting unmotivated. What to do?

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    I don't know the full relationship you have with your boss, but one bit of advice: Maybe don't post work your boss did on a public web site exclaiming that it's bad. :) – DA01 Feb 27 '15 at 19:41
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    Am I the only one who thinks that while this is not the best design possible, it is not particularly bad nor hopeless? Boy, I remember when people gave me designs with rotating gifs and wanted me to implement it. – dirkk Feb 27 '15 at 21:00
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    this isn't even bad, everyone has their own level of expertise and if you think you can design something better then why not submit your own? – user24102 Feb 27 '15 at 21:55
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    @Sarchophagi : You might get a better answer here. – user2284570 Feb 27 '15 at 22:06
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    As a user, I see nothing wrong with that design, except maybe the fact that the form is not centered on the plate. – Kroltan Feb 28 '15 at 0:52
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You could start by describing what in particular you don't like about this design. Don't get me wrong, I don't really like it either, but I've noticed that you haven't written anything about why you don't like the design. If you told your boss the same thing ("basically, it just sucks"), I'm not surprised he didn't listen to you. If you don't like it, try to verbalize your disapproval. If you're not sure how to describe what you don't like about the design, try to argue with design principles. For example, you could say that the intense red is inappropriate for a food-related product, since red creates strong emotions; "Boy, I sure do love this rhubarb" - doesn't sound so convincing, does it? Also, I think the layout is pretty unbalanced and chaotic. Keep in mind that those were just examples, you should think about what you don't like about the design and then tell that to your boss.

If he's not a complete douche, he should at least be willing to talk about it. But just saying "I don't like that thing" isn't an argument, as little as "You're a programmer, not a designer".

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    This. Every time, for any type of criticism. If you want to get someone to improve on something and you know what's wrong, quantify it, don't assume they know what you're looking at and what needs to be fixed just because it 'looks bad'. If it's important enough to tell them, it's important enough to quantify. – Zibbobz Feb 27 '15 at 21:49
  • Great answer! The problem is that he simply disqualifies all I try to say about it, claiming I just don't have all his expertise and can't understand how innovative is his design. The heavy red everywhere. The green round button middle-aligned within two inputs. The bold, wide and vertically stacked right menu. Fully rounded photoshop-like inputs. No light fonts, all bold. And last but not least, the attempt to pile things over this ridiculous chef's tray. Whats the next thing? A flash intro? :( Its like he's not familiar with web trends at all. At least not this decade's. – Sarchophagi Feb 27 '15 at 23:31
  • Well if he's your boss and has that attitude, there's really not much you can do ... maybe get some other people's opinion (people who know a bit about design, everybody else will just tell you that it looks "fine"), he might listen to the crowd. Or prepare another version of this page that looks better and show it to him, a side-by-side comparison could be useful to support your concerns. Or, if you're in charge of realising this mockup (I'm assuming it's a photoshop mockup?) as an actual web page, try to work in your ideas subtly (or step-by-step over time), maybe he won't notice ... °ω° – MoritzLost Feb 28 '15 at 0:04
  • Thanks for everything Gin. Really good advice! Just out of curiosity, do you agree with bad things I pointed out? The chef's thing? Would you point anything else? – Sarchophagi Feb 28 '15 at 1:24
  • Glad I could help! :) Well the color is the thing that bothers me the most... what's that supposed to mean, "order something or I'll kill your family?" °ω° As I mentioned above, I think the balance is kinda off; the text in the upper right is a bit lost there, it doesn't look streamlined overall. With the chef (and yes, the input over the plate is cheesy), it rather looks like a pop-up ad, not something I would take seriously. Of course I don't know if this is an ad, a landing page or something else, but let's just say I wouldn't click that green button regardless of where I saw this thing °ω° – MoritzLost Feb 28 '15 at 2:36
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This is an age-old problem where people unfamiliar with the medium try to bring over habits from another.

I'd push back from an implementation standpoint. Push for responsive layouts, device agnosticism, agile processes, etc. This will force him outside of his comfortable large Photoshop file and into working more directly with you in a collaborative way.

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There's only so much you can do. Explain why the ideas that he proposes are not good for the web in an as considerate, nice of a way as you can. For example, in this design making it responsive would be a pain, keeping the image for small screens is impossible. You could note that it's bad practice to create a completely different mobile layout than the desktop site. Make sure to provide alternatives and guidance, not just criticism.

In the end of the day, he is your boss. He's the one that pays you. As such, he has the last call as long as you're working there. Never forget that changing companies is a possibility!

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Age old battle: programmer vs designer or ponytails vs black socks.

Just adding something to the advice that has already been offered. Is the position/job description/responsibility of you and your boss well defined? Even if you have shares in the company, that does not necessarily mean you can make decisions or offer input in every process of the company.

For example, I have shares in a company that creates cosmetics. I am very opinionated, as I guess you probably are. I would not dare, though, making comments or offering advice about the smell of the new bath products they are launching even if I think they stink (which I don't, they rock), because that is completely out of the scope of my responsibilities. I can have opinions, as every human is entitled to have, but it is not my place, my right or my responsibility to share them or try to enforce them if they are out of my scope.

So, are you just hired to implement what he designs, which in many cases is the case? Or are you supposed to critique his graphic design as well? Be careful if crossing those boundaries, because it creates a muddy slush that very often end ups in war. Nasty one.

Another comment: I can guess that, from the tone of your question, your advice probably does not come as a subtle comment. Mine was like that as well, and I had to learn to tone it down and sweeten it a lot. Like they say: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

(BTW: I personally both have a ponytail and wear black socks)

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