For the first time in months, I woke up that Sunday feeling refreshed, cautiously optimistic. You too?
My optimism comes in waves; things remain tenuous. But texting friends during the 2020 Election acceptance speeches, there was a shift. Their speeches, clearly, touched a nerve. After months of anticipation, we ugly cried tears of utter exhaustion.
America was aching for Auntie K’s clear, practical, thoughtful, and kind leadership. We were desperate for Grandpa Joe to tell us: “It’s going to be ok, America. We are going to get through this, together.” We didn’t realize just how much we needed to hear this, and a reprieve from our 24/7 anxiety.
The day after Biden/Harris gave their acceptance speeches, their Transition team, thankfully, wasted no time getting to work.
The gift of a tactical transition team led by strong leadership is undeniable; (look at who they’ve hired in under a week). Their first tweet brought comfort. I wasn’t scared about what I might read. Instead, a lovely feeling bubbled up: curiosity. What would they tackle first?
And, they already had a site up Day 1?! At first click, it was evident an experienced creative team designed it.
The website said: We are serious and ready. What a quick ROI on our votes!
The gift of a tactical Transition team led by strong, experienced leadership is undeniable.
Looking deeper, (after my chortle of “thank g-d, a normal government is back!”), what I saw was less reassuring.
Instead of innovative storytelling, Biden’s enormous image made quite a statement! If action matters more than intention, this action, and image, speaks volumes.
Don’t exploit Black women; pay them, credit them, and center their stories.
Like Biden and Harris, “The work” is just beginning. My work didn’t end with my vote. My next action: speaking up on the value of inclusive design.
The Transition 46 team undoubtedly has qualified, high-paid consultants. You did your job restoring confidence in American democracy.
But, a team that rejects AOC’s input is not necessarily equipped to build a “better” America. Outside perspectives are needed. This is why the team missed something. It may seem small; these things often do.
Today only, I’m offering consulting advice, pro bono. Why free you ask? Women give away work as “ideas” often, unfortunately.
Women don’t really owe Biden’s crack team lessons in communications. We don’t owe anyone more free labor. In fact, you should be convincing us we made the right call.
Entrepreneurs are expected to give a lot these days, especially in the “progress” sphere. As a social startup dealing with several crises (Trump, Covid-19, Portland’s social unrest, small businesses folding, and a mass exodus of women from the workplace), new clients are always welcome.
We’re happy to provide further strategic consulting to ensure inclusivity isn’t an afterthought. Together, we craft revolutionary, dynamic messages that make sure diversity is integrated, holistically, into every aspect of work.
This is a congratulatory gift; please consider hiring us in the future. We don’t owe anyone more free labor, especially Biden’s crack team. In fact, please start convincing us we made the right call.
We hate to be a broken record but:
Believe ALL women.
Listen to women. We know some things.
And pay women, please.
That was fast.
Day 1! Congratulations on the launch of buildbackbetter.com. Like Joebiden.com above, the design work is unquestionably solid.
You got that site up right quick. Your tweet was on point.
First, kudos to you for nabbing that url: buildbackbetter.com. As a “Great Reset”, Future of Work, Build Back Better obsessed team, we were impressed. Pretty slick. (When did you buy that?!)
There’s more good design stuff than bad. Modern/classic mix of fonts; refreshing colors and gradients. Shiny, polished. Great imagery. Love the blue tiny to the middle images. And of course, we love this logo, designed in part by my colleague, Creative Director, Aimee Broderick.
>Everything is put together. Cohesive. Coherent. Calming. A moderate “American” story. It clearly was designed to be understandable and reassuring. A vision of returning to pre-2016 is concerning when that only worked for some.
First, kudos to you for nabbing that url: buildbackbetter.com. As a “Great Reset”, Future of Work, Build Back Better obsessed team, we were impressed.
But first, some questions.
First, what happened?!
Sometimes a team of strategists, communications experts, graphic designers, copywriters, project managers, web developers, and Creative Directors get too deep in it.
Let’s take a deeper look with fresh eyes.
What is the story of this landing page?
Content, media, pictures, copy all tell the story. You know that, or you wouldn’t be the comms team for the next leader of the “free” world, and probably paid 10x more than I am.
This website’s main story? An old white guy, important, pensive, propped up by Black people, literally.
It features Joe, solo and huge! On my desktop, I didn’t even know to scroll at first, just toggled to the tabs.
The headline “Restoring American Leadership” is fine, but what happened to “moving forward together”? How about repairing, by doing it differently?
If “One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”, the layout and image selection must reaffirm your positions, not contradict them.
Hot tip: Small stuff adds up. Nip this in the bud.
We live in too much of a digital world to get this lazy on Day 1.
Why center whiteness (literally) like this, ever?
When I finally scrolled, in between Biden’s large profile on top, and a small photo of Harris on the bottom, the central images of Americans feel off, as a result. On their own, they’re fine. But with the literal proximity to power and layout, the “diverse” images of Black Americans seem tokenized. The family, and everyone with masks, feels forced.
Hot tip: Image scale, cropping, and hierarchy matter.
Now is not the time to get sloppy or seem like just yesterday was performative. It was not this blatant before with the landing page for joebiden.com, (featuring an Indigenous American woman).
Where the bleep is Kamala?
Besides her name, small, top left, she’s in a picture, at the bottom, masked and holding Joe’s hand. They’re pictured next to the email sign-up, and she is cut off. Why not center this image? Why leave half her out? It’s not even a great crop with a sliver of blue on the flag.
This team is already showing her as a footnote to her own historical win.
For all of us who voted, she is as much of the story as he is.
For Black women (and white women with sense) she is the story.
Hot tip: We want to see all the main characters that make up this nation, not just the patriarchy. Select images and layouts to create new focal points.
Who helped get him elected?
Black Americans, obviously played a huge role. Black women: 91%! Progressives hoping for better (many who did so holding their nose at a moderate), did too. Jewish women: 79%. Even social democrats and former Presidential hopefuls worked hard to get out the vote.
Democrats claim to be the party of the future. We want to “own” innovation, right? By contrast, this site is clearly speaking to moderates; it’s pandering but not progressive.
It’s clear the Transition team understands the importance of innovation and inclusion. Look at the successful and well-designed Accessibility and UX.
After Trump, aren’t we sick of centering on and only showing the white guy? (Even if he was more of an orange…) We are the more diverse party; act like it.
Hot tip: Remember, “normal” only worked for wealthy, white men. “Build back better” will 100% fail if we go back to “normal”.
the party of the future. From Biden to AOC, we want to “own” innovation, right? By contrast, this site is clearly speaking to moderates; it’s pandering but not progressive.
Practice makes Progress
One of the first tweets of this team says: “Learn how the Biden-Harris transition will move forward”. Where is this site moving anyone? How is this progress?!
We expect more than functional and adequate from this team. We want (and deserve) groundbreaking.
This time, “Better” cannot be a slow march. We need a damn leap.
Look, we get it. He is THE President. But, remember, we THE people put him there.
We told you we’d be watching.
Please, do better.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: An image of Joe Biden, screenshot from the “Transition 46” buildbackbetter.com desktop website.