The Society for Environmental Graphic Design, “an international non-profit educational organization providing resources for design specialists in the field of environmental graphic design, architecture, and landscape, interior, and industrial design,” thinks of itself as the professional organization for anyone who designs graphics beyond the page or screen. Craig M. Berger is director of education and professional training.

I am reliably informed that Berger – and maybe some Pentagraphistes or the Canadians they hired like an Indian outsourcing firm – were terribly, terribly hurt when I called bullshit on their little confab at the Snib four months ago. (Berger is the one who promised me press credentials, then reneged. Ethics in design, anyone?) These are people who need to get used to public discussion of their work and fast.

What have Berger and the SEGD been doing since then?

  • Their Web site is still a disaster. The news page still overwrites itself, erasing SEGD’s own history. (It was last updated “07/5/2007.” What day was that?) Yet there is also a Buzz page, which rather confuses the issue.

  • Pictures from some kind of event are served up as an FTP page, complete with username and password given in the clear. I won’t duplicate the link, but I will show you a browser security warning:

    Security warning: you are about to go to an address containing a username.... Are you sure you want to go to this address?

    After you load that page, you are confronted with nothing but filenames. The same group that sells audio compact discs of presentations by visual signage designers expects you to hack into their own site to select photographs by filename.

  • There is at least a “Web manager” listed, Paul Trautwein. He’ll have a lot to manage, given the homepage’s 13 layout tables, 3K of JavaScript to “Hide from older Browsers,” and the actual nature of the homepage’s dozen validation errors (the CSS passes).

  • I think the blue-on-ochre text of the 2007 SEGD Awards page reads nicely, and I like the way the pop-up window that shows you winning images cycles effortlessly from the project you really want to look at to another project and another.

These are people who want their profession taken seriously. Of course Web sites are not part of their daily work. But Web sites aren’t part of the daily work of anyone but Web developers and designers; that doesn’t excuse anybody else’s shitty Web presence, and it won’t excuse SEGD’s, either. Why can’t they do what AIGA did and just hire Zeldman?

Book cover I also paid cash money for Berger’s book, Wayfinding: Designing and Implementing Graphic Navigational Systems. It’s a photo book with cutlines, like dozens of other graphic-design books I’ve read, though here the cutlines occupy a third of a page.

The book offers us the least-representative rendering of the New York subway I’ve ever seen, making the illustrated station look like the terminus of a high-end European rail line. This station’s backlit Helvetica signs were unironically displayed in the chapter entitled “Legibility for users with disabilities.” The chapter spends all the usual time discussing the “American” with Disabilities Act and running photos and cutlines of near-vapourware products like the RaynesRail© (sic).

But a beginner, or even an otherwise-qualified graphic designer faced with an “environmental” problem for the first time, cannot take this book and produce a viable job based on its information. The introduction specifically states that “[t]his book is not a how-to guide or a set of instructions.” The problem is that such a book is exactly what is needed. If the head of the Society of Environmental Graphic Designers can’t write it or sell it to a publisher, who’s gonna?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.08.08 16:27. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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