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What does a designer do on April Fools Day?

This week's release happens to fall on April Fools Day. The one day of the year where tomfoolery, shenanigans and levity abound. A day when you put all seriousness aside and let out your inner practical joker.

I thought of trying to pull one over you by starting off saying something like “I’ve decided to end the podcast, and this will be my last episode” But then I thought, what if someone is reading this or listening to the podcast for the very first time. That person might not realise it’s an April Fools joke and leave. Or what if a regular listener took me seriously and unsubscribed from the podcast? Not to mention, since my episodes are mostly evergreen, someone may be listening to this episode later in the month, the year or perhaps even years from now.

Instead, I decided to use this episode to share some of the “design” related practical jokes I’ve been part of over the years. I put “design” in quotation marks because I'm not talking about creating fake designs as a joke (although some of that does come into play) I'm mostly talking about pulling pranks on unsuspecting coworkers.

If you’re here for advice on your design business, I’m sorry, but you probably won't get much out of this episode. However, if you're looking for something to liven up your day, then keep on.

I’m a big proponent of working from home. I can’t imagine going back to office life working for someone else. But with all the perks of being self-employed, one of the drawbacks is not having coworkers to have conversations with, share ideas OR pull practical jokes on. That’s one of the things I miss since leaving the print shop.

Pulling practical jokes on my wife or kids is fun. But it’s not the same as pulling a good one past an unsuspecting coworker in the middle of a busy business day.

In honour of April Fools Day, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve pulled on my unsuspecting peers in years past. I describe all of these in detail on the podcast episode, so if you are here reading this, I suggest you press play and have a listen instead. They get better as you read.

  1. Unscrew the top of the salt shaker or switch the salt and sugar
  2. Saran wrap on the toilet seat (funny, so long as you don't have to clean up the mess afterwards.)
  3. Turn the lights off in the bathroom via the circuit breaker leaving the victim to finish their “business” in complete darkness.
  4. Turn Brightness off on monitors to make people believe their screen is turned off.
  5. Remove balls from mice (was fun before optical mice became the norm)
  6. Swap left and right mouse buttons, or change the tracking and scrolling speeds via System Preferences.
  7. Reroute computer wires, so keyboards and mice control the wrong computers (pre-wireless devices).
  8. Rearrange keys on a keyboard. Especially fun when used on people that need to look at their keyboard while typing.
  9. Put all phone lines on hold and tell someone there’s a call for them. Let them worry about picking up the wrong line.

Up until now, I've shared some of the typical harmless pranks I've done. Now it gets more fun.

Upsidedown screen:

Find someone's desktop/wallpaper image and rotate it 180 degrees in Photoshop. Watch their confusion when they turn on their monitor and see the image upside down.

Screenshot of a messy desktop.

For someone who keeps a messy computer desktop,

  1. Take a screenshot of their desktop.
  2. Put all the files and folders from their desktop into one folder.
  3. Change that one folder's icon to a 1px by 1px dot and rename the folder to a single character.
  4. Place the folder at the bottom of the screen so that the name is off the screen. This leaves only the 1-pixel square “visible”.
  5. Replace the background/wallpaper of the now clean desktop with the screenshot of the messy desktop.

Watch and laugh as the person tries clicking on files and folders not knowing they are part of their background image.

Scary warning message

This was probably the best prank I pulled on my coworkers.

  1. Take a screenshot of a coworker's desktop.
  2. Take a screenshot of any warning or confirmation box that your computer displays.
  3. In Photoshop, crop the warning or confirmation box and alter the message to read something like “Warning: Proceeding with this option will result in the deletion of the hard drive.”
  4. Create two realistic looking systems buttons. One that says “Cancel” and one that says “Continue” but make the “Cancel” button greyed out.
  5. Place your new “Warning” message over the screenshot of your coworker's desktop.
  6. Replace your coworker's desktop image with your new creation.
  7. Sit back and enjoy.

Watch as your coworker panics at the message on their screen. They will try to press the Cancel button, but of course, it won't work. Plus you made it greyed out to look like its not clickable. They'll be afraid to do anything else in case they inadvertently delete their hard drive. Let them worry for a while before letting them in on the secret. Then watch your back, because they will want to retaliate after this one.

What’s the best design related practical joke you’ve ever pulled off or been the recipient of?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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