My day job is looking to do some site redesign and we've been running the gamut of RFPs from so-called "design" agencies and it's got me on the brink of tears... and not tears of joy, we're talking tears of sheer agony. One after another I sit there and look at these proposals that are simply glorified brochures with inane and convoluted interfaces.
Our site is a service. Our customers need to be productive! The tools need to be intuitive and helpful. Clever and "innovative" are all fine and good but two things I really don't need are a) customers that leave because they can't figure it out, and b) customers that drive up support center costs because they can't figure it out.
Seriously, how hard is it to understand that a hover-scrolling list with no scroll-bar doesn't convey to the user that there's more items on the list than they can currently see? How hard is it to understand that when the entire set of content is embedded in a flash applet you can't use the browser's "find" feature to search the page, and you can't bookmark certain articles to access later or send to your friends, and it wont get indexed or cached in a search engine, and it's much harder to brand or use a translation proxy?
It pains me to read some of the design discussions on the 37signals blog, because those guys get it, and I want them and their talent working on my project. There's got to be some other agencies out there that "get" it. Where are they? Seriously. If you know of a good one, please leave me a comment. Thanks!