Entering the FLOR Carpet Tile Design Contest
Sometimes, submitting to a design contest means submitting more than just your entry. Sometimes, it means submitting to using poorly-designed web tools. And, yes, sometimes, it means submitting to grinning and bearing it because it’s just not that big of a deal. But, still, please, everyone, retire your dated web tools! This is why.
March 16, 2012
Submitting to the FLOR Design Contest 2012
(In More Ways Than One)
A few weeks ago, my mother forwarded me a promotional email from FLOR, announcing a carpet tile design contest. She figured, it might be fun, why not give it a shot? She and I both assumed it would just be a quick little design diversion, something to mull over while I drink (another) latte. I probably should have known that it would turn into something far more time-consuming than a coffee break. These things always do. In the end, it was a great little design exercise, but I found myself getting far too wrapped up in it. (Pun not originally intended.) Mostly, this frustration was over some of the limiting rules for the competition, which would have been no big deal, if it weren't for the requirement to use a difficult web tool. Of course, rules (but not so much web tools), are absolutely necessary in a contest. Yet, when they actually inhibit the competition itself, don't we all just want to break them a little? Even for the sake of a carpet.
Meet Plussed, my final submitted design to the 2012 FLOR Design Contest. And, guess what? I made the Top Ten! Of the 500-plus designs submitted, a panel of judges selected the Top Ten entries. Then, all of us that entered all tried to recruit as many voters as we could for our little cause. And, from those top ten, the winner was determined by popular vote. More than 2,500 votes were cast, but, unfortunately, I wasn't able to pull off a social media coup for the win. But, nonetheless, it was great news to be a finalist! Many thanks to everyone who voted! Much appreciated!
The Frustration (Design) Process
Why NOT to Make Clumsy Web Tools
There were only two simple rules to follow for the contest. One, you must use their proprietary web design tool, the FLORbuilder, to submit your entry. And, two, you may only use 50 total carpet tiles to complete your design. “So, why was that so frustrating,” you say, “It's just a carpet; relax.” Yes, yes, I know. So, let me first say that I just vented here to the tune of three long paragraphs, which I have just deleted completely to spare you, Dear Reader. You're welcome.
Let's just summarize that vent session: the rules were frustrating not because of the rules themselves, but because of the tool. I'm sure you can all imagine how I feel about poorly designed technology. (Grr! Get it away from me!) The FLORbuilder was a terribly clumsy tool to use, and it repeatedly gave inaccurate tallies for the quantities of tiles and cuts that a particular design used. (I have the screenshots to prove it.) That is a problem when the rules state you must to stay under 50 tiles, according to the FLORbuilder, which, apparently, is having issues with arithmetic. When it comes down to it, for the sake of the contest, one really has to just go with the flow, and accept that what the FLORbuilder says, goes.
So, if we're talking about a fun little contest, sure, no big deal. But, the FLORbuilder is not used only for this competition, it's a tool the company is promoting on their website. The goal should be to help your potential customers, not to annoy them into leaving.
The Take-Home Message for the DIY Crew
Despite my frustrations with being forced to use a poorly-designed tool for the competition, I do understand that, if people can tolerate the FLORbuilder enough to actually use it, there is a financial benefit to the company in offering a tool that allows customers to create and purchase custom rug designs. And, there is a benefit to the customer that wants a unique product they can call their own. However, while the FLORbuilder might be helpful to test out basic carpet design ideas, should you design one you like, here's a secret: never order your carpet tiles directly from the FLORbuilder. Unless, of course, you just feel like making their tool benefit them financially, more than it benefits you. (Your move, FLOR. Hire someone to design & dev a better tool, and I'd be more than happy to try it out!)
never order your carpet tiles directly from the FLORbuilder.
Now, you ask, "So, if I shouldn't use the FLORbuilder, what should I do?" Simple. This: design your rug, then count up the tiles (manually), place your order, and cut them yourself when they arrive. Why? Because, not only will you save money on the cutting fees, but also, if you're smart about it, you'll likely need fewer tiles than the FLORbuilder suggests. By using the scraps to reduce the total number of tiles you need to purchase – for example, by cutting a 1/3-tile-sized scrap to fill a 1/4-tile-sized hole – you'll save yourself even more cash! Congratulations, pop open a bottle of wine and admire your spiffy new carpet!
When it comes down to it, FLOR is a great product, and it's fun and easy to work with, so don't shy away from it just because they host an annoying tool. Installing FLOR is quite easy to do, by the way. I have hand cut and installed rooms full of the stuff, and I am certainly not a burly dude by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, why not design some carpets – even if it's more efficient to ignore the tool and figure it out on your own? Go for it. Maybe you can even win a contest.