Yesterday I went to a meeting of the supporters of the small neighborhood primary school our son Jurij is attending. This “Verein” consists of parents that want to improve the school library, organize festivities and so on. There are regular discussions with teachers and the headmaster to direct the efforts into a meaningful direction.

One item on the evening’s agenda was “home page redesign”. As it turned out, some graphic design students were asked to create drafts for a new visual identity for the school. Some posters containing letterheads and logos were presented: clean, a bit playful, modern, with a hint of elegance … I couldn’t let these designers touch one of the best school homepages ever!

I demanded to know why the school’s janitor, who is responsible for the home page right now, shouldn’t continue doing it. And why in general there is a need for a re-design, why is there a feeling that it is “outdated”? Because, as I made plausible, this home page convinced me that the school is good for my son. There are no elements of corporate design, because hopefully this school is not run like a corporation. The home page clearly expresses that somebody inside the school is taking care of it and promises a very personal experience with teachers and the headmaster. (Which, by the way, is true.) In fact, this home page is a treasure, compared to the bureaucratic, soulless, content-managed sites of other schools. It looks a bit goofy and has some errors, but it tells a story no template could tell.

Expecting to be talking against a wall, I was surprised that some teachers and the former headmaster instantly agreed. The former headmaster told how he was challenged with creating the home page by himself many years ago and then found help from the janitor because he is “good with computers”. He said, not without a glimpse of pride, that it was difficult, but they managed.

A teacher remembered the story how some colleagues created the logo with the ants.

(Of course the new professional design drafts do not contain any ants, just some typographic tricks — though the school has “Ameisen” it its name.)

Nothing that somebody found being wrong with this home page had anything to do with its graphic design.

However, after a bit of tumultuous discussion, the final word is not spoken yet. Let’s see how the project will continue. I will keep you updated.

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