Dear Santa...

Simon Meek - overworked, underpaid freelancer and web designer extraordinaire - tells Santa the 5 things he would really like for Christmas this year.

Dear Santa...

This year, I have been very, very good. I have not shouted at the computer much, and I feel I have done very good work for the ungrateful, tasteless, collective waste of space that is my client list. I know I shouldn’t have said those things about Ruby programmers and Project Managers on Twitter, but what the heck, you know how it is. A little too much sherry and we all say a few silly things we later come to regret.

So without further ado, I have great pleasure in enclosing my Christmas list. I hope it’s ok.

1. A new Photoshop

Photoshop gift

I’m bored with the old one, and even though I decided not to bother with CS5, I still want a better way of designing websites. Photoshop is fiddly, isn’t built to make websites and obeys no known interface guidelines.

Surely we can have a professional visual design tool that’s basically running in native HTML, CSS and JavaScript, with doses of bitmap and vector editing for the tricky bits? This should be able to produce validating and not impenetrable code ready to be shipped off to developers for clever stuff, and clients for demos. Whatever the elves out back tell you, this is not Fireworks, or Dreamweaver.

Let’s face it, Adobe isn’t going to do this — the only thing they want to add to a design tool is the ability to wag a dog’s bottom, so we’re going to need another developer to do this.

2. Shiny new clients

Handshake

I don’t mean to carp, but the clients you brought me last year seem very shoddily made. They’re not the brightest sparks, they’re ungrateful and, worst of all, they’re tight. I tried sending them back to Amazon, where I know you source all your goods, but their returns policy was so excruciating I couldn’t face the grief.

So this year, if you could possibly see your way to sending me clients who fulfil the following criteria, that would be great.

They should be:

  • Pleasant
  • Passably intelligent
  • Reasonable
  • In a line of work that’s at least vaguely interesting; ideally the arts, though there’s a lot less money in that than there used to be round these parts, so maybe not.
  • Prepared to pay for copywriting, photography and user testing
  • Wealthy (and free with their cash)
  • Always ready to get the drinks in

Hope that’s doable. Obviously I know that good clients are very hard to come by, even with Amazon’s massive buying power, but please try. I’ll be extra good and extra nice to the new ones.

3. A really, massively Spectacular Idea™

Light bulb

Quite important this one. It occurs to me that, given my years of creating websites for others, I should be able to come up with an all-conquering idea of my own which I can sell to Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/Apple in a year or two for a small fortune. This would then bypass any need to worry about my old age and total lack of pension provision. An idea like this has been inexplicably eluding me.

As you can maybe tell, this one’s weighing on my mind somewhat, and yes, it is hard to provide for an entire family on a lowly designer’s wage. I mean, have you seen the price of an iPad recently? Of course, it might be simpler to just ask you for an iPad, but I believe in the old “give a man a fish” adage, so this way seems more proactive and “edgy” (the clients use that word a lot, and I still have no idea what it means, so I’ve just thrown it in here).

A bit awkward this, but I will also need a legal document from you relinquishing any intellectual property rights you may hold over the idea. I trust you, man, I really do, but the lawyers (Screwem, Bodgeit and Scarper, Attorneys at Law) say that it’s completely necessary.

4. More hours in the day

Clock

I know everyone asks for this, and the whole concept of stretching time to fit my whim is something of a Hollywood cliché, but I’m finding it hard to fit stuff in.

Maybe we could approach the problem in a different way. How about you come up with some system that automatically crashes any online video I’m watching after, say, 5 minutes?

In fact I reckon there’s a market in this. Could we make a commercial offering of software that crashes your browser? Adobe obviously has a head start here, but I’ll ask the lawyers.

5. Peace and goodwill to all

Dove

Again, Hollywood clichés abound, but if we could stop people arguing about iPads vs Galaxies, iOS vs Android, Mac vs PC and all that, life would be a lot more pleasant on the intertubes in general. Actually, all of these involve the followers of a certain fruity little company, so would it be too much to ask to somehow… lose all these people?

Obviously I’m not advocating some kind of fanboi genocide, but could we just shut them up for a while using your mad Santa ninja magic skillz? While we’re at it, and you’re all revved up, we could do with some peace from the Android and Linux camps as well, holier-than-thou sandal-wearing stinkers that they are.

You know what? Only the Windows people should remain. They’re so downtrodden thanks to Microsoft’s utter reluctance to release good software that they’re reasonably quiet.

In conclusion...

So to sum up, Santa, I’m looking for health, wealth and happiness. Not too much to ask is it?

Happy new year to you and the reindeer by the way. Take care on that sleigh.*

Simon (aged 39 and a half)

* How do you fit all the presents on? I’ve always wondered. Some kind of black-ops in-flight refuelling system?

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Responses to this article

3 responses (oldest first):

11-Dec-10 10:11
I wish for health, wealth and happiness too.
23-Jan-11 13:17
Love your letter and shopping list, could not agree more!

Your comments re Photoshop are spot on. Adobe dropped the ball the minute they purchased Macromedia (formerly, Macromind) years ago. Further, the ftp client in all versions of Dreamweaver is a disaster. It bombs out during ftp sessions constantly, when other ftp clients manage just fine.

It is a pity Apple don't scale their iWork apps up to the level of functionality of Adobe's, so we can benefit from the outstanding GUI in apps like Pages, but with the power of apps like Photoshop and Illustrator.

BTW, I have an iPad and TouchDraw is one of the best designed and fun to use drawing apps ever published. Worth buying an iPad for, so start saving!

Alex - Typing this on a MacBook Air 11", awesome too!
27-Jan-11 22:25
@Oflife: I'd also love to see Apple produce a full-fledged web design tool along the lines of Photoshop/Fireworks.

I'm also tempted to try Pixelmator (http://www.pixelmator.com/) when I get a moment. It grossed $1M on the App Store in 20 days:

http://www.pixelmator.com/weblog/2011/01/25/pixelmator-grosses-1-million-on-the-mac-app-store/#comments?r44b=no

Not sure if it's a complete Photoshop replacement though...

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