The Great Goodbye

The goodbye page is a right of passage in the editorial world. When a co-worker leaves the organization, he or she gets their very own font page replica, complete with photos and funny headlines and stories, encapsulating their time with the institution. I’ve designed my fair share of these. Some are better than others. The success of a goodbye page is totally on whomever is acting as the editor of the page, the person gathering content, writing the headlines and refining the stories. In 2007, my friend Mike Swartz spent six months at the Boston Globe, filling in for a designer on maternity leave. Those next few months provided plenty of material for best goodbye page of all-time.

The Details of a Smashing Send-off

One key aspect of a great design or product is that it represents the organization’s brand and identity. This page is a perfect summarization of Mike’s time at the Globe. It’s bright. It’s smart. It’s full of jokes and fun. Here a few details that make this a wonderful send off.

  • Gentle Prodding as Art Direction

    Unfortunately, art direction isn't all waving your hands in the air, saying smart, creative things. Usually, you're acting as a defacto project manager, making sure words, images and otherwise are all on schedule and cohesive enough to make the final product. Pestering the design department until they took the five minutes to create their own Simpsons character was not the easiest bit of coordination.

  • He Wore a Lobster Suit!

    There are good sports. Then are people who will put on a lobster suit for the cause. Why this was neccessary isn't really important. What is important is that Mike wore the lobster suit. There's a lot to be said for someone who jumps in a does what needs to be done. Outside of this moment, the young man did some lovely work during his stint. I think he probably won more design awards (if you measure success like that) in those six months than most of the design department earned the entire year. I'm not even counting the fake design awards I'd randomly leave at his desk once or twice a week.

  • The Red Floaty

    This dang thing was thrown around the department with great abandon. Pretty much everyone in the design department hated it. There were lots of threats, but none of the adults (managers) took it away. The floaty was just one part of the daily grind of jokes, stealing stuff from each other’s desk and various other hijinks. When I say the entire department hated the red floatly, it might be more appropriate to say the entire department hated Mike and I.

  • Plan for the Unexpected

    In the news biz, things happen and you always need to be prepared. Evidently, that holds true for the goodbye page. This avatar was late in its arrival to my desk. It got lost somewhere between my desk and the desk of the adjacent cubicle. The design department did have taller than normal cubical walls. I'm guessing that's what happened. Editorial commentary aside. I knew exactly where this avatar would go the whole time. I was always thinking ahead, especting calamity. That’s what always made me a fantastic designer in the newsroom.

  • Mistakes Make for Great Moments

    I can't remember exactly how this one avatar came to be black and white or half the size of all others, but it's one of my favorite parts of this page. I vaguely remember receiving a print, rather than a digital file for this submission. I might be making that up.

  • Be Bold, Yet Informative

    During my newspaper career, I loved to create designs that were visually striking but also intricately told a story. If all the asides were removed, this page would still be funny, but that's all it would be. The conversational moments are powerful. The conjure memories of that time all these years later.