Down with Advertising

I had a realization the other day. My mindset about my career was once that I was in the business of advertising. Granted I used to do a lot more print design, whereas these days I’m focusing almost entirely on the web, so of course I once worked on more things that literally resembled ads.

But for the longest time I also considered the websites I designed to be simply advertisements for clients — small businesses which included lawyers, snack food companies, photographers, financial advisors, authors and non-profits. Advertisements they may be, but something clicked that changed the way I would think about my role in this field.

I asked a simple, broad question about the sites I work on:

“How are they used & why do users need them?”

The answer was clear: people use the web as a means to gather and process information. It’s not all about advertising and selling — well maybe it is for some, but it doesn’t need to be. For myself, and I suspect many others, the web is about knowledge and access.

If a company doesn’t have a well-designed and produced website or gasp!, has no site at all for whatever reason, the search for information about them becomes a struggle. And then a dead end, and a disappointment to the interested party.

In this new light I have decided to look at my career differently — as a way to help people and their businesses patch up these dead ends on the web, one site at a time. They have useful, intelligent content of all kinds to publish online: text, videos, photos and yes, I’ll admit even the occasional advertisement can be useful, fun or engaging. I’d like to help make it easier for users to find all of this great stuff.

I don’t believe advertising is evil, but I never wanted to be in advertising because of its negative connotations. With a quick shift in mentality, I won’t be part of it anymore.

Down with advertising. Long live the age of information.