Is Quark dead?

If your company is desperate for new customers, you would probably respond to customer inquiries, right? Quark was the king of the design layout world in the 1990s. Every single professional designer used QuarkXPress for layouts. However, in 1999 Adobe announced a rival layout program, InDesign. By the mid 2000s, InDesign ruled and Quark was barely used by anyone.

Yet Quark hangs on. It’s admirable. What’s questionable is their customer service and sales support. This year I’ve responded to every one of their marketing emails. No response. Certainly at first my emails were a bit poking. But then I started to ask some serious questions. No response. Zero. None.

The headline of this post is literal. I’m asking is not only the popularity of Quark dead, but are their marketing and sales people also dead?

My first email to Quark was a bit sassy, yet complimentary. I thought maybe they would respond with a “Hey, thanks. We really appreciate our dedicated customer-base.” But no. Quark was never known for the customer service. In fact, I would dare say that’s the primary reason why they are dying.

Back in the 90s, Quark was notorious for not responding to questions. Adobe, on the other hand, was very community focused. Adobe would respond to emails. Adobe was connected to the design community by putting on seminars. Everyone loved Adobe. Everyone hated Quark. It’s too bad that Quark doesn’t turn around their community stance and actually respond to emails. I’d love for the underdog to survive.

Quark email 1

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:52 AM


Subject: Re: Discover Layout Automation in QuarkXPress 9.5

I love that Quark keeps chugging along.

Three days later, instead of a response, Quark sends me the EXACT same email. Working in a marketing department at an old company, I used to get those sorts requests all the time. “The open rate on our last email wasn’t very high, can we just resend the exact same email to the exact same list.” +dies a little every time that is asked+ Apparently, someone at Quark also thinks resending the same email is a good idea.

Quark email 2

Date: Friday, April 19, 2013 12:46 PM


Subject: Re: Discover Layout Automation in QuarkXPress 9.5

Layout automation. That’s cool. Hey, you might want to check your email automation. I got this exact same email from you last week.

For the third email of 2013, Quark used a nice subject line of “Streamline your workflow.” Yet in the email they never explained how Quark streamlines your workflow. Seriously. IT was all marketing mumbo-jumble. Quark, show me how you streamline my design workflow. I want to SEE. Not hear. Responded to them requesting a white paper on QuarkXPress 9.5 helps to streamline my workflow:

Quark email 3

Date: Monday, April 22, 2013 12:37 PM


Subject: Re: Streamline your workflow. Upgrade to QuarkXPress 9.5 for $349.

Do you have any white papers on how QuarkXPress 9.5 helps to streamline my workflow?

Quark’s 4th marketing email touched on some specific features in Quark. Nice job! Now that Quark is getting better at explaining things in detail, I asked them a simple question if I could place a .psd file inside a QuarkXPress layout. It’s a simple question. Adobe InDesign could do it. But back when I used Quark in 2001, it could not. Hopefully Quark improved so they allow for this basic functionality. I got no response.

Quark email 4

Date: Thursday, May 2, 2013 11:50 AM


Subject: Re: Discover Precision Typography in QuarkXPress 9.5

Can I place .psd files inside a QuarkXPress layout?

Quark sent out an email talking about how Quark 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 users can upgrade to the newest version. For me it was a nice shoutout to the olden days of Quark. I rather wish that Quark took more on that angle of the reality of how people perceive Quark. It’s a vintage program. Call on our vintage sentimentalties as the hook. And then drive into the point how Quark is up to speed with our times.

But no, this email was a boring form letter. I responded back with some vintage fun and then asked a legitimate question if Quark has an official response for Adobe announcing of going to a subscription-based pricing scheme. This was very much current news at the time. If Quark wants to show they are with the times, they would have addressed this question.

Quark could even seize the opportunity to show how they are customer-centric and that they don’t want to screw people into a subscription plan. But no. They sat. And did nothing.

Quark email 5

Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 5:25 PM


Subject: Re: QuarkXPress | Customer Announcements

It cracks me up to see QuarkXPress 4 on this list. Oh I remember the days.

How does Quark feel about the Adobe announcement of going to a subscription-based pricing scheme. Do you have any blog posts or information to share Quark’s perspective on this?

As if their previous form-letter email didn’t perform well. They decided to re-word it a bit and use the same subject line, but this time they put “Important” in the subject line. Oooo! That will get my attention now! Well, it did get my attention and I shot them back another response that they couldn’t possibly ignore, because I was practically giving them the opportunity to make a sale.

One of the things that marketers and sales people love is when customers use their sales tools to convince managers to buy their product. It’s an essential part of the selling process. Empower your customers to help sell your product within their department. In this 6th email I ask for some specific materials to help me convince my manager to use Quark.

This should be a golden egg for a sales person. You have a very interested potential customer who is asking for tools to help sell your product. I got zero response. Especially disappointing is that this time I looked up a real person’s email address at work requesting for materials. Gavin Drake signed the mass marketing email. He is is the Vice President of Marketing at Quark. Perhaps I’m too small of peanuts to Gavin. Maybe Gavin forwarded my email to sales, but nothing happened. I don’t know.


Date: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 5:39 PM


Subject: Re: QuarkXPress | Important Customer Update

To help convince my managers I should be using Quark, do you have any materials that explain how Quark is better than InDesign?

For Quark’s 7th email of the year, they sent out a very intriguing one. Quark released a free design layout app for the iPad. Nice! The add-on Pro Feature Pack is just $4.99. I immediately downloaded the app and paid the five bucks for the Feature Pack. Fantastic!

One of the features of this app is that you can start your layout on the iPad and then export it out to the desktop version of Quark. It’s quite brilliant for Quark to do this, as this app is like a good way of getting regular people using Quark on the iPad. And then it gets people to want to upgrade to the full heavy-duty version of Quark on the desktop. Brilliant.

I asked Quark a simple question if their app could export to InDesign. Could this be a sassy question? Perhaps. But you know what? Anyone who downloads this app should be considered a very hot lead that their sales team should follow up with. Their response could have been something like, “We’re sorry to say that DesignPad does not export out to Indesign, but it does export to QuarkXPress seamlessly. In fact, here’s a video demonstrating how easy it is. We really appreciate you purchasing the Pro Feature pack and we look forward to any more questions you might have. We are here for you.”

But instead I got no response.


Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:25 PM

To:, QuarkXPress ,,

Subject: Re: DesignPad Wins iOS App of the Year and You Win a Great Deal

This app looks great! I just downloaded the free DesignPad app and did the in-app upgrade to the Pro Feature Pack for $4.99. Thanks for sending me this email telling me about it. One question: How do I export my DesignPad layouts into InDesign?

Quark really does seem like they are dead. C’mon, Quark show us some response so we can see that you are indeed alive.

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10 years ago

I think Quark’s success lies in their foundation in XML and rolling out large systems implementing Quark technology in big corporations. They’ve been going after a select group of big fish and ignoring everyone else. That explains why they really don’t care about your emails or any sort of general customer service.

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