“With legitimate design opportunities turning into calls for spec work at an increasing rate, it is our goal to arm designers with the tools they need to take a stand against this trend. We also aim to provide businesses with information on why spec work harms our industry.”

From the No!Spec website.

I’ve known Catherine Wentworth, No!Spec’s project manager, for a number of years now. We’ve yet to meet in person (she’s in Thailand, I’m in Northern Ireland) but we often exchange emails about the design profession. The campaign she runs has been on my radar since I started in self-employment — you’ll have seen me mention it from time to time.

Cat and I agreed that a site revamp was in order — one that would put the focus firmly on the message — so I offered to create a fresh look. Our chat went like this:

Me: What’s the brief?
Cat: Simple.
Me: Ok, how about this?
Cat: I like it.

Here’s the before and after:

NO!SPEC website beforeOld

NO!SPEC website afterNew

The new layout was ably coded by Jay of FastCoconut.

You might see a bug or two, or some copy that’s relevant to the old design. If you have suggestions, or if you see something that looks out of the ordinary, I’m sure Cat would appreciate hearing from you.

As well as the site change, I made a slight alteration to the wordmark that was originally designed Piers Le Sueur. I gave it a fresh look using Verlag.

Whether the No!Spec campaign is new to you or not, the site’s definitely worth a tweet. Here’s a small sample of posts:

Visit the No!Spec website. Follow on Twitter, and like on Facebook.

30 responses

  1. David, thank you for revamping Years back when we started the campaign we were fueled by a fiery hot passion, resulting in the IN YOUR FACE (insert expletive here) design.

    Now that the campaign is a given, I felt it was time for a quieter, simpler look . To, you know, let the message speak for itself. Also, we were in need of a nav overhaul, so might as well start spanking fresh.

    You and Jay have given us that and more. It’s megga fine :-) Ta from me to you both.

  2. Honestly, I think NO!SPEC has lost its unmistakable identity. The website is now simply beautiful, but does NO!SPEC really need a simply beautiful website? The old design may not be really winning… but it was absolutely more recognizable, with its yellow background and black strips. Why drop those characterizing elements? I would say the same about the logo; that old-fashioned exclamation mark was doing a good job in distinguishing NO!SPEC logo among the crowd. Why change it?

  3. Well said Omiga. The site looks clean n all now, but it also looks more like a blog than a hub for the movement. The old site did always bother me a little, but I always pictured them revamping it into a more evolved and less “under construction” look. I think the new site and the old one need to make sweet design love and mix some DNA.

  4. Glad you like it, Antonea.

    You’re very welcome, Cat. My thanks to Jay, too.

    Graeme, FAQ about spec work.

    Omiga, the use of the exclamation mark is one reason why I created a favicon showing that alone. It’s still the same logo, just with a slight refresh. I think the name is recognisable enough to carry practically any typeface.

    As Cat mentions above, she felt it was time for a quieter, simpler look. I’m glad she did. I felt the same.

  5. Unfortunately, I think it’s lost it’s identity entirely :-(.

    I can see why you’ve made certain decisions but now the logotype is less strong when, for the subject matter, it should be a bold statement.

    Admittedly, the site is better, but I think it appeals to only a small demographic out of a huge design community which it should be appealing to.

    I know you’ve probably spent quite a bit of time on this so my above comments aren’t to offend, they’re purely opinion and speculative. It’s probably just good for No!Spec that someone of your stature has provided them with a design, regardless.

  6. Hi David, I agree that NO!SPEC is recognizable enough to carry practically any typeface. But, I also think that the old typeface allows NO!SPEC logotype to carry more weight and authority.

  7. Hello,

    I like the clean look. well done. are you going to add a favicon? just a detail I like to see.

    Thanks for sharing the revamp.

  8. I believe the new look is better and it provides a clean and fresh look with great readability, however it is missing the shock value the original site carried. I understand that Catherine is looking for a quieter, maybe more ‘mature’ look, but I feel that its message doesn’t have a strong impact when you visit – maybe incorporating hints of the original yellow and a few bold lines may help keep its message loud without yelling.

    I will always support NO!SPEC and their great contribution to the design / creative industry.

  9. I am not sure I like the more slender logo and the new colors that for don’t really emphasize the “no” like the other one did. I am not really taking anything away visually from it.

    Also it reminds me a lot of your own website, David, colors and layout.

  10. Hi David,

    Did you do it for free? :)

    IMHO the new layout is more appropriate for a site that is frequented by designers and prospective customers seeking a little insight into our free-pitching grumpyness. Thumbs up from me.


  11. Deep sigh…

    As you might imagine, the three of us are totally swamped. We didn’t have time for a redesign that would take months to put together – lengthy discussions, a multitude of tweaks, all the while trying to second-guess an audience (designers) who almost never agree. The design is as I requested. Simple, with the message as the main element. It’s the message, darling ;-)

  12. Of course you will never get total agreement about what the strengths and weaknesses of any design are. This redesign was undertaken for a client who gave a brief. She knows her audience and must be the person to decide what’s best suited to them.

    Often projects we start morph into something different over time and the design must also reflect those changes. Catherine’s rationale for the revamp explains this and as well as the choice of design.

    “Now that the campaign is a given, I felt it was time for a quieter, simpler look . To, you know, let the message speak for itself.”

    The new site gives the message room to breathe.

  13. I was always bothered with the old “alarming” design and I’m glad you guys realized a cleaner overhaul. That said, I agree it lost a bit of its own identity, but I understand the message should speak for itself and should give a bit more room to breathe.

    The thing is that I’m still bothered with is its lengthy explanation, although I’m pretty sure most paragraphs do make perfect sense. However, we all know most people hate to read, especially stuff they’re not interested in. Therefore I’m afraid that sending such a message to relevant recipients won’t change their current minds.

    Anyway, I’d love to see some kind of extract that we’re able to send to those who approach us for any kind of spec work.

  14. Very nice – and long overdue! I do understand that such volunteer efforts can be overwhelming for all involved (and that the results are never going to please everyone!). As a member of the “Original NO!SPEC Committee,” I do step in and make “noise” when noise is needed – and we’ve been so successful in educating many designers, “contest” holders and others over the years. I feel somewhat guilty for not being able to be more involved at times.

    David, thank you for stepping in and giving the NO!SPEC site a refreshing new look. It’s professional, simple, clean, easy on the eyes and has great navigation – all elements that are required to successfully accomplish the most important aspect of NO!SPEC: The sharing of information.

    The essence of Piers’ original logo remains – as is the case with many redesigns – and I feel the necessary message is still conveyed with the revised identity.

    I do think that many forget the NO!SPEC site is not just a resource for design students and those in the design profession. I often direct businesses, organizations, “contest” coordinators, educators, publications and others to the website for information about the topic of speculative work. I did so yesterday after receiving an invitation from to participate in a ‘competition’ [i.e. “contest”] for a new logo design. Who knows if they even bothered to visit the site for a little NO!SPEC education – but, if they did so, a very professional presence was there to be explored.

    Great job!

    – J.

  15. Luke, no offence taken at all. It might not be as bold as the old design, but it’s still black uppercase with a red exclamation mark in the middle.

    My client said in her comment, “We didn’t have time for a redesign that would take months to put together – lengthy discussions, a multitude of tweaks, all the while trying to second-guess an audience (designers) who almost never agree. The design is as I requested. Simple, with the message as the main element.”

    Sean, I’m unsure why the favicon isn’t appearing for you. I’ll double check.

    Neel, glad you’re behind it.

    Jeff (Gillan), that’s right, I volunteered my spare time. Everyone involved with the campaign does, none more than Cat, who’s tirelessly plugged away for years. I’m glad the redesign gets your thumbs-up.

    Jeff (Fisher), thank you. You summed-up the whole point of the redesign very well. Don’t feel guilty about not giving up more time. I know you spread the word through your Twitter account and blog.

    Gert, I’d be surprised if there isn’t such an extract already on the site. If it’s not easily found then that’s something we should definitely look at.

    Bernadette, thanks again for the work you’ve done over on Logo Design Love, and for taking time to comment.

  16. At first glance, it looks as though something is missing in the header top left corner, but maybe it’s just me. Overall, though, its a good clean design – and the grid use is evident.

    The logo is clean and means business. Giving the exclamation mark cornered edges gives a bold-feel to the whole design. Like it :)

  17. Good of you to comment, Andrew. Thanks.

    Gert, I’ve been thinking about your comment. What do you mean exactly by “extract?” There’s a very quick overview at the top of the sidebar (shown below) but I figure you mean something else:

    “Spec work and spec-based design contests are a growing concern. So in an effort to educate those working in the Visual Communication industry as well as the clients who use their services, a group of designers banded together to bring the NO!SPEC Campaign to the public.”

  18. I like the re-design. I’m a sucker for two-color designs, and I especially like black text with splashes of red. :)

    Well done. I don’t code, which is why I use WordPress, but this makes me want to tweak my blog’s design.

  19. David, at second thought I think you did a good job on the redesign. The message should be as clear as possible and easy for the retina. No need for alarming designs with even more alarming colours which – particularly the previous design – wasn’t really great for its target audience…

    Yes, my earlier comment seems a bit vague, but then again I won’t make it as a good writer like you did. The quick overview your wrote here seems much better. But with the next request from a contest-holder in mind, I think the whole story No!Spec tells needs to be compressed in one or two sentences or at least in one shorter paragraph. You know what I mean? Just telling this person that ‘Spec work based design contests is wrong and is our growing concern’ doesn’t change these people’s minds, because there’s a truckload of creatives starving to pick up the job and take their shot.

    I think our message should be way stronger, deeper and perhaps carried by a new collective or a new designers replublic :) Like the seal or warrant guarantee buttons on legible design company’s sites, people should be educated that specwork won’t be backed up by industry professionals. Keywords here perhaps are bond, pledge, warranty, edifice, surety, seal, warrant, security, guarantee, stamp, imprints, all used by professionals. Pro designers and creatives should join hands together on this one worldwide, you see?

    Ok, sorry for my chaotic grammar and propaganda, but I really feel this movement should be way stronger than it ever was. This can only be achieved when respective pro’s will fully embrace the idea and act like it. Young designers will follow their wisdom eventually and completely ban speculative work out of their life. ?

  20. My feelings are that the original design shouted a sense of urgency. It confronted the alarming rise of design contests and competitions, and although it wasn’t ‘pretty’, it did this well.
    No!Spec has now stamped it’s authority on the topic, and it was time to redesign the site to reflect the design standards of the target audience. David has imbued the site with the gravitas it deserves, it’s clean and uncluttered, and perhaps most importantly it’s easy to navigate.
    Kudos to Catherine, David, Jeanette and all the No!Spec team who maintain the rage. For free.

  21. I like the simplicity of this one and its straight to the point, so many people waste time doing special effects to make it stand out when really its about the content.

  22. Well, they seem like DREAM clients. I agree with @Alex Szecsenyi. The before seems like im being warned. Instantly makes people want to put their guard up and run away.

    New design is really nice and breezy. A lot more relaxed and laid back.

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