Thanks for your comment, Philip.
I think the difference of opinion stems from the discrepancy in the definition of design. What you’re talking about as design is problem-solving, planning, thinking, and overall strategy. As I mention in some other comments, I’m juxtaposing art direction with _visual_ design or _graphic_ design, the act of executing a piece of work that’s perceptible by the five senses, not Design in the larger sense.
bq. The example of your bad design of the not-for-profit site is not the result of a lack of art direction but simply bad design, nothing more: you gave the client what you thought they should have instead of properly solving the design problems.
Absolutely. More granularly, it’s a result of the lack of creative direction and art direction, which you could sum up as bad Design (not bad design). My point was that I simply couldn’t solve the problem through improving my typography, picking better colors, or making sure my grid was more strict.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read through the other comments, as I hope it’ll give you a more qualified sense of my use of the term “design.” I completely agree with the sentiment of your comment, but there’s a core difference in the way we both use the word.