February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
This is a baby. Ok, you’re smart and already knew that. Now you’re wondering, why are you showing me a baby? 2 reasons: 1) Babies are cute. 2) This post is about iterations, which means sometimes when working on a project, you must give up your baby even though you love it.
Regardless of your field, everyone has experienced this at some point whether or not they actually decided to get rid of the baby and find a new one. I’m guessing that if they kept their baby, they loved it and nurtured it while everyone else walked by wondering whose ugly baby was in the stroller. I realize this is a rough analogy, but it’s important. I often find myself pouring over a project, neck deep in whatever it is, absolutely committed to loving this baby. I feel so good about it then I ask for advice. (I’ve given babies up before so I know what’s coming here, but it’s still hard) On the first round, it usually goes something like: “I like where you’re going here, but this isn’t quite it.” Which means, scrap it and start over.
The point is, it’s fine to love your baby/project, but if you know it’s not going anywhere and people are telling you it’s not working…listen. In the end, the multiple iterations will result in a better project that exists because the world needed it, not because you and your mom loved it.
February 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
On Thursday night, 3 excellent digital producers joined us at the UOregon for a producer showdown. The best way for me to describe it is to display the tweets. View my report in place or click here to download the pdf.
February 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
and neither does anyone else. I can concept and design and strategize all day, but I’ll only ever get so far. This post is about the importance of collaboration. There is something magical about sitting down with another person and brainstorming. We both come to the meeting with average ideas, maybe a few starts, but definitely nothing spectacular—nothing near a complete idea. We get to talking and bouncing ideas off each other and the magic forms—like all the words fly off our notes and out of our mouths and form a sculpture of a complete, good, concept.
I couldn’t tell you what makes a good partnership—maybe it’s mutual enthusiasm or communication skills, but really it just has to work. It can be an unlikely friendship but the stream of communication has to be open. The best meetings are when no one holds back, we throw it all out on the table and figure it out. Bad stuff gets trashed, good stuff is nourished and the average is reworked.
Even when I’m not directly working on a team, collaboration is still a vital part of my creative process. I work–show–get critiqued–rework, then go through that process again. Nobody can think about every user or every person that will view an ad or use a product—but together, we can get as close as possible.
My “Top Technology Pro” class recently developed user stories together to brainstorm a Mt. Hood mobile app. We worked off each other’s ideas and came up with way more user-stories than we could ever categorize. The process didn’t go any further, but it was great evidence that people need to work together to achieve maximum efficiency.
Even the most independent people need help over the huge brick wall of creativity.
February 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
I began reading Users Not Customers by Aaron Shapiro this week. For anyone in any industry relating to success of a business, I’d recommend it.
So far, it’s enlightening—really putting reason to why modern businesses are successful. Shapiro mentions that people in their early twenties right now simply expect an easy digital platform. They expect everything to work intuitively—from self led assistance to fantastic human-customer-service when the time comes. As one of those early-twenty-somethings, this notion is strange to me because it’s hard to imagine people who don’t mind poor user-experience.
I never think about the convenience of digital. It’s not exciting when VerizonWireless.com breaks down my bill online or when I can go to EugenePolice.com and file a report, without ever talking to someone. But when I can’t do these things, I get upset. If I have to call a customer service representative to find out if a local store has my product in stock, not only will it be an inconvenience—9 times out of 10, I just leave. While reading Users Not Customers, I was thinking about why I leave—why I get so turned off by not having an easy solution—I think it’s related to independence.
When I’m used to doing everything myself—Depositing checks at an atm, looking at tech support in a FAQ or chat, ordering pizza online—relying on someone else makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. My vision of humans working is a last resort, so if step one involves making a phone call where a real person will answer—that means I missed something along the way and wasn’t able to complete a task independently—I had to ask for help.
Shapiro discusses an internal software platform for users to interact with a business. These users include employees, customers, and anyone who digitally interacts with a brand. If this platform works smoothly, everyone gets what they need efficiently. When a twenty-something calls customer service for help, they know that the person on the other end of the phone is sitting at a computer using some kind of platform to complete your task. To me, this is a huge inefficiency. It’s one extra step. Me to Employee to Computer. When I could just as well sit at that same platform (with fewer permissions and just the parts I need) and fill out the same form that the employee is filling out when we’re on the phone. Me to Computer. Sure, maybe an employee would do some back end work once I hit submit, but I never have to know that.
This is what my peers expect—efficiency. When a company is obviously missing something, we notice. We lose some trust for that brand. “If they can’t figure out this simple task that so many other companies have, what else can’t they figure out?”
Some may think we are lazy, but we’re not. My generation knows what technology exists and recognizes when companies don’t utilize what they need. You can ignore us now, but we are just getting older and richer. One day soon, twenty-somethings will be forty. We will own user-based, rapidly evolving businesses, and you will understand that users are your boss.
Now go watch the Super Bowl and see what brands are looking to interact with their users, not just broadcast a message.
October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
23% of single-parent households with an oldest child that is female watch TLC. Media planners I’ve talked to say that so much is about the numbers.
I’ve dipped my big toe into Media Planning—the whole foot will come soon but this water is very cold. Anyway, while recently perusing MRI, I suddenly realized why I see so many ads that don’t make sense in certain media outlets. Yes, MRI is awesome—it is fantastic that I can see what percentage of men in single parent households watch the Disney Channel—that is unparalleled, useful information. BUT that can’t be it. Planners must not choose the top 15 channels or magazines just because of numbers—they must understand why. Why are all these adult men watching Disney and what state of mind are they in while watching. What kind of creative would best reach this audience in this location—how does whatever I am selling, help these people and how can I make sure the message is accessible to them.
I believe in collaboration and quality. When I sit at an early-stage project meeting as a writer, I sure hope there are planners, designers, strategists, digital thinkers, and realists sitting around me. And I hope we can all ask questions and ensure the “why” isn’t solely because of numbers.