Jerry Ketel

Archive for the ‘Portland’ Category

The city should know better

In creative, design, Portland on July 13, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Recently, the City of Portland put out a call for creative firms to submit free ideas for the “the city’s online Web presence,” Portland online. This is a slap in the face of Portland’s design and creative community. Essentially, they are asking for free ideas without context, without strategy, without an overall goal of what the Web site wants to accomplish. The request makes the assumption that all they really need is a fresh new look and viola, they’ll have a pretty new website. The Web designers in town should be incensed. Web design is much more than a pretty skin over HTML code.

I am going to assume that the city has a caretaker team of programmers who are probably over worked and don’t have the time to develop ideas on their own. I will assume that the City of Portland doesn’t have budget to properly pay a solid team of professionals. It is an easy leap to imagine someone in the Portland Building saying, “Hey, I know, let’s have a contest, we’ll get free work!”

This is simply the wrong way to go about designing an important communication tool in our fair city. The idea of this kind of contest is a perfect example of how much the city fathers value the contribution of the design community in Portland. I am certain that there is a very good Web design firm here in town who would work for pennies on the dollar to help the City of Portland to polish its presence on the internet. Not only would they provide design look and feel, but they would provide navigation and strategic expertise. This is Portland after all, craftsmanship is in our DNA. Our community wants to be a seen as a creative magnet in the world—it is a source of pride. So why don’t our elected leaders get that?

This is not the first time that we as a community have been rebuffed by the leaders of our community. Last March, I sat through a speech Sam Adams gave in front of the members of the Portland Advertising Federation. In it he pinpointed the four target industry clusters for the 5-Year Economic Development Strategy for the city: Clean Tech and Sustainable Industries [CTSI], Software, Activewear, and Advanced Manufacturing. You will notice that the creative industries are represented by software and activewear only. When I asked how the we as a community could help Adams said, “You can help us with branding.” I hope that doesn’t mean a another contest.

Now is the time for the Portland creative services industries to rise up and plant a flag in the sand. We need to be recognized for the contribution we make to our city. We should start by writing letters and emails to the city about this disrespectful contest. And then we need to join together and strategize how we can become a force that cannot be ignored. It is time.

Jerry Ketel