Wet floor!

We tend to think of certain common icons as fixed and standardized, but in fact, if you pay attention, you start to notice that very few of them really are. I mean, how could they be? A logo for a company (the mark could be seen as an icon in a sense) is central to its brand identity. Therefore, they have vector art files for it and usage guidelines, etc. It is exact and must never be tinkered with or they risk diluting the brand. Icons (visual symbols, pictographs,  whatever) in the world are quite different. Something that I find really fun about them is the endless variation. Its like they are all slightly distorted copies of an original that has long since been lost.

One of my favorite examples is the wet floor sign. I started amassing a small collection:

I personally think this guy is break dancing.
This might be the most elegant I have seen. The designer used a common “slipping man” symbol, added waves to indicate water and the universal exclamation mark for caution. No language needed.
This guy landed on his bum. Could also work for Slip-N-Slide.
This one is really common, but it always seemed like an odd way to fall.
Every now and again you see some interesting hand made modifications to a sign. In this one they seem to be adapting the wet floor sign to also mean “working”. The third eye on the top must be mean “look out” or perhaps warding off evil spirits.
A combination of the bent knee and the Slip-N-Slide
Found online: Sliding or about to lay down for a nap.
Found online: Adding the little puddle isn’t a bad idea either. Note the extra effort on the shoes and hands too.

Of course, this is just one example. This post could go on and on. There are so many to pay attention to:male/female bathroom, handicapped, elevator door open/close, walk/don’t walk characters (I have small collection of those too), even the arrows on highway signs often differ by states.

Professional humility and the case for beauty

I think some graphic designers (I am including print and interactive in that title) have subtle inferiority complexes. In our day to day lives, we are not writing prose or researching cures or arguing cases, we are designing homepages and book covers and logos, and maybe that doesn’t seem to be “enough” for some people. For this reason, I think the profession sometimes attempts to intellectualize just what it is that we do, and tries to search for more cerebral backings to compensate. Our daily accomplishments are plenty challenging enough.

Design in Academia

I think one reason that the MFA in design program is still fairly new is that a BFA in design had traditionally always been plenty sufficient to ensure competence as a professional designer. But everyone is getting graduate degrees these days, so dag nabbit, we wanted one too. Don’t get me wrong, I learned A LOT, and I think most people really enjoy their MFA programs, but I question the applicability of some of the discussion and course work for day to day practice (unless of course you become another academic).

Who are we designing for?

I first started thinking about this in grad school in an MFA program in design. I went to grad school at California College of the Arts. Their program is in a rather academic camp that is shared by schools like Cranbrook, Yale School of Art, School of Visual Arts, CalArts, RISD, etc. I don’t say that to sound snobby (trust me), but to distinguish it from some programs that seem to be more vocationally oriented. I recently listened to a discussion with a Yale design professor and he explained it in much the same way as in my program.  In these types of programs “form making” is a means of self expression rather than a means of meeting client objectives for print or online collateral.   In this way I think these programs have become more like  traditional fine art programs. Emphasis is on developing your “inner voice” rather than developing nice business cards or websites. I find these goals often antithetical to what we most often do as designers. Let’s be honest, a healthcare company or a nonprofit or a clothing label is not paying us to express ourselves on their dime. Quite the contrary, our skills and talent are being employed to advance their goals. And I personally find that more rewarding (depending on who the client is). If I can use my abilities to help a small nonprofit have a more professional face online and garner more donations, that has a lot of value to me. But since graphic design first recognized itself as a proper discipline and vocation, designers, with a slightly condescending tone, have been told that theirs is an “applied” art. Not a true “fine” art. And maybe this perspective has helped foster this insecurity which has contributed to graduate programs feeling that they need to make their programs more like fine art programs. This of course is nonsense, because even the great masters were working for clients, but I digress.

Theory

These programs are also heavy on theory. Not theory as in the Swiss-modern approach favors white space and structure vs the whatever approach that doesn’t. Theory as in reading French literary and cultural theorists and historians (Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard, Barthes etc.) who write about structuralism, deconstruction, and semiotics. How does this help inform our day to day work you ask? I think the argument was that it helps us interpret or reinterpret our visual culture (or something). In Design Writing Research, when describing a couple academic writers, Rick Poyner states, “They are interested in theory not as an end in itself but for the ways it can be related to the artifacts and practices of design.”  I would challenge that.  I do remember that Deconstructive texts were used as the intellectual underpinning for a new look in graphic design that came out of Cranbrook in the late 80s. You know the look, although perhaps without the fancy title. Seemingly haphazard objects dropped on a page, no real grid to speak of, gritty, maybe some found objects thrown in. Its been everywhere for a couple decades now and I don’t believe most of the most memorable designs were informed by the designer first reading Derrida. My point is that there is a consistent effort to give a scholarly backing to an aesthetic that doesn’t necessarily need one. We are making work for everyday people who don’t read this stuff anyway. It’s not meant to go in a gallery, discussed by a small self-selected group of people privy to the discussion.

I have never really been convinced that reading Barthe or Saussure will help me create a better designed website or brochure or banner ad.  It’s all very interesting, but I think it is symptomatic of a certain underlying denial of what we spend the majority of our time doing — making things look visually appealing*. And there is no shame in that. While it is still accurate to say that we communicate ideas, the appearance of things is usually foremost (and inter-related). Academics, authors, and “alpha” designers (members of “design celebrity”), sometimes seem to exercise verbal acrobatics to make it sound much more cerebral than that. They talk about telling “visual stories“,  “making a direct appeal to our emotional attention“, “creating aesthetic synergies”, etc. Winning over your client and the audience at large based primarily on the appearance of the thing you create is often very challenging. I don’t see the reason to make it sound scholarly or complicated if it isn’t (occasionally it is).

Naming

One of the first things you learn when you read certain design publications and attend enough lectures, is that we need more lofty language for what we do. First (as best I can tell), we went from calling ourselves “graphic designers” or “web designers” to simply, “designers”, thereby including ourselves in the broader pantheon of design professionals. One could argue that this is simply shorthand, or that all designers share similar challenges (form and function and all that). There is some truth to this, but I will be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about industrial design, fashion design, or urban design. Therefore I would advocate a return to specificity and being clear about just what it is we do. Every instructor I had in grad school (not counting academic electives) was a graphic designer, and it was always from that perspective that everything was discussed. For that reason I personally think the degree should have been in “graphic design” rather than simply “design.”

I also don’t think graphic designers are exempt from the sort of “title inflation” that seems to go on in every industry these days. To some we are not just “designers”, we are now “design practitioners”. Or sometimes simply, “practitioners” (no need for med school). I’m not kidding, that is the term you hear regularly now in academia. There is also “visual problem solvers”, “creative professionals”, “visual communicators”, and a host of other upscale titles. This of course is not unique to design. Programmers now call themselves “engineers”, secretaries are now administrative assistants etc. And then within recognized titles there are further attempts to distinguish oneself, for example the company I work at now doesnt just have Vice President which was probably the case decades back but now has Associate VP, Senior VP, and Executive VP. I imagine at some point “executive” won’t sound impressive enough anymore and they will add “Platinum VP” or “Ultimate VP.” But before I get off track and start expounding on the troubled vanities inherent in human nature, let me return to design.

Designers have carefully trained themselves never to say that something looks, “nice”, “cool”, or “pretty.” Instead, it must look “visually appealing”, “aesthetically pleasing”, “optically riveting”, “graphically compelling”, etc. Now I strongly believe in making the effort to be verbally precise and articulate why something is nice to look at, but often these words are just clumsy search for synonyms that we hope sound more sophisticated.

Designer as..

I’ve seen a bunch of essays start this way. In fact I have been guilty of writing a few myself. “Designer as Author” was the original. School of Visual Arts even has an MFA with that focus, stating, “this program is the first designed exclusively to encourage authorship and entrepreneurship in a broad range of media” (also mentioning “Designer as Entrepreneur”). You can see both titles combined here. Rick Poyner often seems to see us as writers, and in one case suggests we read Umberto Eco to inform our practice. Ellen Lupton writes about the Designer as Producer, and in referencing “Designer as Author”, she says, “The word author suggests agency, intention, and creation, as opposed to the more passive functions of consulting, styling, and formatting.” Afterall, we must be doing more than merely, consulting, styling, and formatting! She ends with, “For the designer to become a producer, she must have the skills to begin directing content, by critically navigating the social, aesthetic, and technological systems across which communications flow.” Yup, all that. Evidence of the growing role in the world we give ourselves is everywhere. The Walker Art Center recently opened an exhibition about graphic design saying, “designers are becoming producers: authors, publishers, instigators, and entrepreneurs employing their creative skills as makers of content and shapers of experiences.” While I think there are very valid points in all these statements, I still see a connection to the general thesis of “no really, we do more than just make things look nice..”

The joy I get from seeing a well designed whatever is felt on a visceral almost knee-jerk level. Formal solutions (dealing with forms) are at the core of everything we do, not theory. We typically design for large audiences, and when we can generate that sort of appreciation for something we create, I consider that a great accomplishment. I don’t see the need to further validate our work.

In Contrast

There are some writers that seem to have a more “down-to-earth” appreciation for what we do and don’t see the need for the embellishments. One of these writers is Steven Heller. He has to be the most prolific writer on graphic design out there. It seems like every other book I pick up is coauthored by him or magazine article is written by him. The guy must not need sleep. He writes a lot about specific historic periods in graphic design or simply about interesting trends going on today. His writing is always accessible and unpretentious. He also seems to see graphic design in the more honest way that I am discussing it here and I would be curious to sit down with him one day and see if my perception of this insecurity/inferiority complex in our profession resonates with him at all.

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*I use the term “visually appealing” and not “pretty” or “beautiful”, because beauty is not always the goal. Some of the most memorable public service posters, for example, are compelling (the viewer is “compelled” to look at them) but not beautiful. I’m guilty of choosing the word, “beauty” in the title of this post just for effect.

Best Practices Graveyard

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Online best practices are always in a state of flux. From the user’s perspective, this is a positive because the online experience is always improving. For the designer/developer, it can also be a challenge staying current. As I make sites, I regularly get requests from clients who are still thinking five years ago. I’ve compiled a little list of the most frequent (erroneous) requests. Feel free to add any I might have missed.

GIF

There’s no need for this file format anymore. It served us well, now its time to let it rest. PNG is the worthy successor. It supports alpha channels (multiple colors of transparency) which gif doesn’t, and the file sizes are 5-25% smaller than GIF.  Some people still think PNG isnt fully supported in all browsers. They would be wrong. The last major browser to have issues was IE6 (just the transparency part), and few developers care about IE6 anymore because the usage numbers are negligible. Everyday I get requests for GIFs and when I suggest that I give them a PNG instead, I still get puzzled responses.

The Fold

The whole concept of the fold originated from newspaper design. A newspaper as we all know arrives folded in half. When designing the front page of a newspaper, editorial designers are hyper-aware that the content above the fold gets a lot more exposure than whats below. So, similar thinking was quickly transferred to web design. The belief was that content first seen on the homepage before the user scrolls will get a lot more visits than what is below. It is possible that this is a vestige of 90s AOL design where pages didnt scroll. Milissa Tarquini makes that case and goes into more detail about this whole myth, 4 years ago. She also points to compelling studies that show that (amazingly) people scroll. Besides the fact that users are now very familiar with surfing the web and expect more content to be below the fold, there has always been the basic issue of noone really knowing where the fold should be anyhow. Its easy to argue the correct width of a page, but the viewable vertical area of a browser window varies considerably.  So when clients insist that certain content be above the fold, its time to educate them and tell them the term is meaningless. That said, this critique should not be confused with the important thinking of content placement on a page. Placement is a significant part of establishing a visual hierarchy, and it does convey to clicks.

Hyperlink Colors and Underlines

These things no longer matter.
I need to confess here that I was one of the holdouts myself. “But Jakob Neilson says..!” I would exclaim “Textual links should be colored and underlined to achieve the best perceived affordance of clickability.. Users shouldn’t have to guess or scrub the page to find out where they can click.” Guess what Jake, noone listens to you anymore! Take a look at what nytimes.com used to look in 2005:

NYTimes in 2005

and now today’s nytimes.com. I circled clickable areas. Notice how not only is nothing underlined anymore, but clickable items are actually the SAME color as the body copy. That was seen as sinful 5yrs ago, now lots of news sites do it.

NYTimes today

Other examples of major sites ignoring hyperlink colors:

Salon

HuffingtonPost

User habits have changed. We find links based on convention, expectation and context. For example, we expect headlines on news related sites to be clickable, no matter what color they are.

What I do think is important is rollover states. Links should underline or at least change color. Most sites do this now, but sometimes inconsistently and that’s bad ui.

“Click here”

Tangentially related to the above, if something is clickable, it should be obvious. There is no reason to ever have to say, “click here.” I still regularly get copy where a hyperlink is identified with “click here.” This tendency goes back to the early days when content owners thought users needed hand holding for the most basic of tasks. “Click here” is not a call to action, it’s an affront to your user’s intelligence. It’s also bad SEO because it is non-descriptive and bad design because it’s repetitive. I get that request a lot on banner ads in particular. Banners should have a CTA but something like “Learn More About Equity Investing »” is much more effective.

Web Safe Colors

I hate to steal another’s writing, but W3C summed this issue up perfectly:

Some years ago, when computers supported max 256 different colors, a list of 216 “Web Safe Colors” was suggested as a Web standard, reserving 40 fixed system colors.

The 216 cross-browser color palette was created to ensure that all computers would display the colors correctly when running a 256 color palette.

This is not important today, since most computers can display millions of different colors.

If any of you remember the movie Pi, they postulated that the true name for God was 216 characters. Coincidence?

Great Nonprofit Site Design

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An attractive, easy to navigate, content rich website is important for any organization, but I find it especially tragic when a great nonprofit is lacking in this area. Some of these organizations fail to realize that today, just giving user’s information about their mission and achievements is not sufficient to gain full support. A user may be interested in their cause, but lets remember that most people have multiple issues that they care about, and “competing” websites are just a click away. To be taken seriously, it’s critical that a nonprofit have a very professional, polished, online presence.

In my opinion, the best nonprofit designs, are not just attractive, but also focus on donor acquisition, newsletter conversions (signups), and social engagement. They should make it easy for the media to learn more about the organization,  and if they have a need for volunteers, that call-to-action should be front and center too.  It should be clear on the homepage what they do. A user shouldn’t have to visit About Us for this type of  basic info (although the About Us section is a good opportunity for a fuller picture of the organization).

The following are some nonprofit homepage designs I have come across that I found particularly compelling and express the potential compositional diversity in this genre:

YWAM Ozarks Website

This site is one of my favorites. The designer not only created a very engaging architecture for this composition, but also demonstrated an appreciation for the subtlety that makes a design like this successful. The 3D objects dropped on the page, the use of texture, and the well coordinated palette all contribute. While many nonprofits may need more content than this on the page, for some, a few main content areas is all that is needed.

Ducks Unlimited

This site had a need to elevate a number of links and managed to do it w/o the page looking too busy. The top banner area sets the tone for the components below it, and the layered effect creates visual interest without being heavy handed. The top area also has important CTAs prominent.

 

CUPS Health and Education Centers

I thought this site was fun because it combines illustrations with people photography at the top of every page. This is a unique approach that makes the pages warmer and more interesting. The site also uses a simple airy layout that helps the content “breath.”

 

Let's Move

While this is technically a govt site, the goals are similar. The fantastic logo sets fun, youthful tone for the site and established the blue. The nav items are fearlessly prominent, and the use of descriptive text under each is effective w/o looking busy. The boxy approach is sort of the opposite of the open feel which is the more common trend these days, but in this use it helps organize content effectively.

 

ADRA

Extra large, attention grabbing photos help nurture a connection to the cause. I also like the use of smiling faces introducing topics. The At a Glance section is an interesting use of a miniature carousel to add visual content.

 

The White House Project

I couldn’t resist throwing in one of my own designs. For this one I was interested in playing with blending modes and using an overt grid structure to create a rectilinear composition. There was a lot of info they wanted on this page and a fairly flat visual hierarchy.

My portfolio has a variety of examples, each with a very different look. That’s important to mention because designers sometimes box themselves in when doing nonprofit work thinking that only a small subset of solutions are appropriate. As long as the goals are met, there is actually a good deal of flexibility.

Tips for New Designers

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1. Win the good work ethic points.
Design is by its nature is tricky because taste is so subjective. You might create something you think is fantastic and the client might not like it, or you might be asked to pursue a direction you feel is misguided. Essentially, you might be asked almost daily to, “impress me.” That’s a tall order. That’s why it’s all the more important to always win points for your professionalism. Develop a reputation for always arriving at meetings on time, answering emails promptly, being methodical in your requirements gathering, and your attention to detail. Did you name your layers properly? Are your files named according to the nomenclature and structure the company has asked for? Did you remember to archive old work, etc.? All that should be the easy stuff. Consistently creating work that is universally appreciated is harder.

2. Never present a comp you don’t like.
It might sound like common sense, but often when you develop three ideas, you may think the first two are so strong that you don’t have to put a lot of effort into the third. Invariably, the client will choose that third comp. It is some sort of bizarre Murphy’s Law of Design. There will also be times when the client requests something you think is a bad idea so you comp it up just to show them how bad it will look and sure enough the want to go with it. You don’t want to let yourself get stuck in that situation either.

3. Ask clients to give you the problem and not the solution:
Often if the client has something they don’t like about your design, they will try to give you suggestions on what will improve it. They do this either because they think they know better than you, or because they may actually think you will find this helpful or expect this from them. Most of the time its not helpful and will just look bad. It’s important for you to find the root of the issue. For example, if they ask you to make the logo bigger, it might be because they feel that it doesn’t stand out enough on the page. You know that there are a variety of ways to make an element standout w/o actually enlarging it. So the problem is that the logo doesn’t standout enough. You might find a better solution than enlarging it, such as increasing negative space around the logo, placement, nearby colors, etc. I often tell them literally that the process works best if they “tell me the problem and not the solution.” They may actually be relieved to hear that the responsibility is not theirs. They need to trust you to figure out the design solutions.

4. Give reasonable time estimates.
Never give a time estimate until you are sure you understand the full scope of a project. If anything is unclear, get in the habit of asking questions. Not only do they help you, but they show you are paying attention and know how to clarify things. If you receive a very vague assignment whose scope you know could change, don’t commit to a time estimate. If pressed, give a wide range.

5. Stand by your work and your ideas.
Practice articulating why a design works. Eventhough most people form judgements viscerally and almost immediately, clients want to hear you sell your idea. Some new designers cave the moment they see a client show hesitation, and that would be a mistake. You might be surprised how much sway you have if you take the time to explain why you did what you did. Before you present your work, practice what you plan to say so it sounds more polished when you do.

6. Look around.
One of the great things about being a designer, is that you are constantly surrounded by inspiration. If you are an interactive designer, pay attention to what works and doesn’t as you surf. Create a folder in your bookmarks of sites you think are successful (well designed, very usable, well organized, strong functionality). A good source of ideas is also TV. If you are a print designer, pay attention to everything from the signage on the metro to direct mail to book covers. Even if you don’t work on those specific things, its all a great influence. Often when you create, you don’t know where an idea comes from.

7. Always sign a contract.
If doing freelance work, always get a written contract. Its a legally binding document that spells out exactly what you are expected to deliver, what it will cost, and how long it will take. It also should assure that you will get paid in a timely manner and that the client cant suddenly change the scope. I worked for a company once where they didnt mention a contract, so I insisted on one. Later, after I was paid, I heard from another designer who told me that the company had never paid him and that they had pretended he had never done anything for them. He didnt have a contract. There are plenty of sample contracts you can use as a starting point online, if your client does not supply one.

8.Don’t get married to your work.
When working at a design firm, there will inevitably be a lot of compromise. If you get too attached to your work, that can get to you. Do your best, but when the client insists on mucking it up after launch or the developers are sloppy with their implementation of your comp (and its too late to call them out on it), just let it go. You can always keep your original work of art as an initial comp for your portfolio.

9. Never stop working on your skills.
This is especially true of interactive designers. The field changes quickly, and just because your current skillset is sufficient for the moment, doesn’t mean it will be soon. If you are laid off, you might find a more demanding market. When a new version of an app comes out, take the time to learn all the new features. If you are hearing certain apps mentioned in passing that you had never heard of, look them up. It will also be appreciated if you know of a better way of doing something and can suggest improvements in your team’s flow.

10. Trust yourself.
There is always an intimidation factor when you are staring at a blank canvas and have little more than the vague client direction of, “I want something cool and edgy.” You might first look at that canvas and panic because there are no immediate ideas in your head, and thereby question your own abilities. Remember that you have produced work you are proud of in the past and that you were chosen for this job based on that work. You can do this. If you are patient with yourself, trust in the process, and systematically develop your ideas, you will come up with something strong. Also, don’t be afraid to go back to the client/art director/creative director and say you need more direction.

11. Don’t be a prima donna.
A lot of places I have worked, coworkers (non-designers) have told me that the “last designer was such a prima-donna” or “diva” or was “difficult”. I think when a lot of designers start working at a company, they start with a great attitude and over time get more and more grumpy about having to take direction from people who know nothing about design. Its understandable to want to just tell them that their idea is not going to work and that they should just trust you, because you are the designer. Unfortunately, the work world doesn’t work that way, and being easy-going is a particularly desirable quality for a designer.

12. Try to communicate directly with the client.
Most likely, where you work there will be a producer, project manager, or account rep that will insist on being the go-between for you and the client. The client gives the feedback to the project manager who then passes on that feedback to you. Sometimes there are even more people in between. The problem with this is that its like playing “telephone”. The feedback can get a distorted along the way, or you might need further clarification and then must give the project manager your question to pass on the the client etc. which just slows down the process. I’m not saying I am against project managers, they can serve an important role. But I have found that getting design feedback straight from the horse’s mouth works best. The project manager can be in on the call/meeting, so they are still included and in the loop. Some middlemen will be threatened by this because they feel that that is supposed to be their job, but many others will be understanding and even appreciate it because it just makes their jobs easier. Also, the process is often determined by the director, so you might need to clear this with them first.

13. Expect technology to break.
Invariably, there will be a last minute tweak that should only take a few minutes, except that’s the moment your computer decides to crash. Hit command-S (control-S on a PC) so often that it becomes almost a nervous twitch. For presentations, bring a backup on a flash drive because the computer in the conference room might have trouble connecting to the server. When coding, don’t forget to test on all applicable browsers/platforms. Ive often seen a site about to go live and just happen to test it on a browser the developer didn’t test on and see it break. Fixing those bugs at the end of the cycle can sometimes be a real hassle, so test all along.

Stop using Photoshop

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Ok, not completely, but it’s time you stop using it to layout your web pages. I would like to make the case for Adobe Fireworks (FW). Believe me, I love PS as much as you do, I have taught courses on all levels of PS and would call it my favorite application of all time. But PS is about image manipulation. Even though it has some rudimentary web tools, Adobe created FW exclusively for web design. I know, you tried FW a number of years back and it sucked, and you didn’t have the patience to learn something new, so you stuck with PS. But FW is now a pretty respectable app, and it is vastly superior for web design. Honestly,  it drives me nuts how stubborn designers can be, not wanting to even consider an application other than their beloved PS.

Here’s why:

Styles – FW has type and object styles (like ID). If I create a style called “Headings” and use it for all of my headings, I can easily change the size or font in one go. It will update all 37 headings on all my pages instantly. In PS I would have to update each heading, one by one.

Multiple pages in one document – Sure, you can try to do this with folders or layouts in PS, but you quickly end up with a gazillion layers. FW has a neat little “Pages” tab and you can quickly flip through all the web pages in the site. Some people are still creating a separate psd for every page template in the site. Madness.

Page templates – You can create a master template or multiple individual templates. Either way, you update the template and all your pages update right along with it. Once again, nothing like this in PS.

Symbols – If I design a custom bullet, save it as a symbol, and disseminate it all over my pages, I can just update it once and all the bullets change. It’s true that PS has smart objects, but they are more clunky because they don’t have a separate palette that shows/organizes them all, and they must be edited in a separate window. Smart objects were not meant to function as symbols as they do in ID or FW.

There are some other features I rarely use, such as a CSS export, but the above are what I think makes all the difference. That said, its not all roses. Even though I prefer FW over PS for web design by a large margin, there are number of  irritating aspects one must just accept.

Some things I don’t like:

Buggy and crashes more than PS – Just keep hitting command/control S as you work. Its just not as mature an app as PS (which is blissfully stable).

Common things done differently than in PS – I am still amazed at what a poor job Adobe does at creating consistency among their apps. There is just no reason that stroking an object has to be different in PS as it is in AI as it is in FW etc. There are a number of interface differences that just don’t need to be. For example, there are no clipping groups, and layer masks are done differently. Drop shadows, type size, I could go on and on. Why Adobe, why? Its not hard to find these things though.

Doesn’t always play nice with PS - In the current version of FW, Adobe has finally owned up to this and gives you some options when you open a psd because it knows some things might get messed up.  FW also Fs things up a bit sometimes when saving a psd and you need to go into PS to makes fixes. Of course you wouldn’t ever need to save as a psd if people would just get on board with FW (ehem).

But anyway, all that said, I think the first list far outweighs the second.

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