Recently, Winston Binch, Co-founder of BDW, a University of Colorado Boulder graduate program initiative that “integrates design, technology, and entrepreneurism to develop exceptionally agile generative thinker-doers who can originate, design, build, and launch products that more often than not bridge the physical and digital environment” penned this below article claiming that good designers need to also know how to actually implement what they are designing. Be it a graphic designer who is tasked with developing the front-end interface for a mobile app. Without actually understanding (or coding) the backend technical specifications of how the app performs, design therefore becomes limiting.
Winston rallies for the concept of more “creative makers” who can keep the bulk of both ends of the work (design/development) in-house to round out a more holistic agency. BDW claims to bridge the gap between making and doing – something that I am a proponent of. It’s an interesting concept.
“Great ideas can come from everywhere. It’s a truth and a philosophy worth embracing. But if you do a lot of digital and make technology yourself, you need digital creative specialists, people who can come up with remarkable Internet-smart ideas but also figure out and make them. Art Directors and Copywriters with tech chops.
This is not a new concept for digital, but it is for advertising. The reason is that most ad agencies still outsource the bulk of technical production. Meaning that they rely on production partners to figure out the details, do the design and technical development. We still use partners and value those relationships, but we do most of our production in-house. It means we need the type of talent you’d find at tech start-ups, digital boutiques and agencies. Creative makers.
Unfortunately, there are still real digital talent gaps in advertising, and most ad schools fail to deliver against the creative need. There is more focus on ideation than execution. Don’t get me wrong. We want the best idea people of all types, but in digital, we also need them to also have the strategic and technical skills to bring their ideas to life alongside producers, strategists, designers and developers.
In 2008, David Slayden, Michael Lightner, Chuck Porter, and I founded Boulder Digital Works at the University of Colorado to help solve this problem. I’m a little bit biased, but the experiment is working. The program has now graduated and placed 82 students. A couple are working in our company, Deutsch LA, and making valuable contributions.
We need more programs like BDW that are preparing creative people for the new marketing environment. Ten years ago, when Flash was king, the advertising and marketing industry was making some of the most innovative digital on the web. That’s not the case anymore. The landscape’s more complex, and advertising hasn’t kept pace with the rate of technological change.”
Where there’s breakthrough digital innovation today, it’s rare that an engineer is far away. Agencies need to hire more creatives who code, and schools need to grow more of them.
Lately I’ve been posting a bit about what I’m up to – helping out with friends events, client work I’ve recently designed, etc. But, nothing gives me greater pleasure than going into a bit more detail on the Wright Collective – something I have co-created!
The Wright Collective was formed by myself, and Jane Wang, to teach people what they need to know in web design and development. Too often I see small business or even large companies become bogged down with the ever-changing digital technology and systems for design, development and marketing they feel as though they need to keep up with. The Wright Collective aims to demystify all the things such as blogging, starting a site from scratch, learning basic design strategies, executing an email campaign and more. Not only does this empower people to do it themselves (the digital-it-yourself DIY movement) but also helps give knowledge which is always an advantage in business.
Pretty simple right!? Well, there is a lot to teach! We started our first workshop in early March at WECREATE NYC, a cool coworking loft in the Union Sq/East Village area, and had a very successful first event. The broad curriculum gave everyone that attended something to learn, and provided for a framework for us to gauge what our audience wants a deeper dive on. Our second event is coming up on April 8th at The Yard in Williamsburg (hopping cross the river) and will be on search engine optimization and Google Analytics. We will uncover our secrets to understanding search strategies and how to interpret the analytical data to make informed web decisions for your blog or company site.
We’re actually throwing this event/learning party free of charge, so if you’re interested in attending, RSVP here or let us know a topic you would be interested in learning more on at founders@wrightcollective.
A genius concept that I was lucky and fortunate to participate in, created by an associate and friend of mine, Lisa Pastor, and Emily Brenes is the social media class program called “Social Media Marketing: In Real Life”. Recently piloted, and completed, at the Achievement First Endeavor Charter School in Brooklyn, NY, this class teaches young teens how and why brands use social media to sell product. This crash-course in marketing analysis, based in social media marketing broke down and explained why, for example, Pepsi uses Beyonce to sell more soda and how they do it via Facebook.
It was wonderful to be a volunteer for a few sessions, where I was able to lend some guidance and advice to the teens campaigns (which were awesome, btw). These classes met once a week, for 4 weeks, after school. It was refreshing to see such bright talented minds understand these concepts and appreciate the pros and cons of advertising. Watch out for this program to grow and come to a school near you…Lisa & Emily are onto something!
(photo above is the class with all their certificates of completion and awards for “Best Hashtag”, “Most Entertaining”, “Best Use of Social Media” and “Most Fun – success!)
Creating a WordPress site can be easy, if you don’t try to re-invent the wheel to start. I’d like to point you in a few directions for finding a great WordPress theme that is super affordable and easy to use.
Using a pre-made theme might be against your idea of a “professionally designed site” but if you have a small budget or want to try your hand at this yourself, using a great theme that isn’t too expensive is just the way to do it. There are some truly great looking ones out there!
Here’s where I head when recommending these to friends and associates…
Themeforest - Hundreds and thousands of themes for every need. I think they have a great selection of “magazine” templates and portfolio templates. A bit more linear. Most are responsive.
Themetrust – Every theme is so slick. All responsive for various devices, and on-trend with what’s hot on the web.
Elegant Themes - One price gets you access to use up to 87 different themes. A bit more simple in their aesthetic, but great for a very basic web need.
This link to 50 “handpicked” themes is also a great resource to peruse.
Happy blogging/site creation!
Visual Merchandising is an interesting and creative profession. I love to see a brand carries out their look and feel into every possible place. When it comes to this, Krissy Lipka, Head of Visual Merchandising at Kate Spade’s Madison Ave flagship leaves no stone unturned. Damsels in Design, a premier cross-disciplinary organization for women in design (and men too! there was one at this gathering!) put on a lovely event this week to educate us about this job role and how the designer within us can translate these tips into what we do everyday.
As Jennifer Markas, Founder of Damsels in Design, shared with her attendees in an e-mail recently, here are Krissy’s most important takeaways:
- To make your product attractive to customers make sure it pops! Choose a theme, color, style or certain aesthetic and stick with it. Keep it fresh and inviting.
- Think like your customers. Know their behaviors, know what they need and present it in a clear way. Always be one step ahead of the customer.
- Visual Merchandising is extremely different online than it is offline. To translate your product offering in both instances remain consistent–from your packaging to your website buttons everything should be “on” brand all the time.
- Visual Merchandising is a multi-taskers dream! It is a very physical job and requires one to be on the floor, in the office, on the streets “window shopping” and online looking for inspiration.
- Visual Merchandisers come from a wide array of design disciplines including graphic design, retailing and interiors. Make sure you can think like a business person, complete a project from start to finish and be able to represent that process in a portfolio.
Last Tuesday, was Community Manager Appreciation Day. A whole day to appreciate community managers?!? Yup. It’s official. No longer weary of what one even is, or how this role is utilized in the marketing mix for a company, I took advantage of a panel that MRY hosted in hopes to define the word “community” and the managers evolution. By looking at the nuances of this role and where it came from, we can better understand the potential of future community cultivation.
However, before I go into that, let me define what a Community Manager is. A CM builds, grows and manages online communities. Individuals interacting on social media, comment boards, via e-mail, and more, are included. Managing a group of people around a brand is the main focus. This role is not a new one. Think back 15, 16 years. Remember the days of bulletin boards? AOL forums? Someone was monitoring those, and interacting with the users. Those were the early days of CM’s. (Read my article I wrote about this topic in 1998 on CNN/Family Circle/PC World here).
- Act as a layer within the organization. Don’t silo yourself. Layer yourself as an integral player in each department. To communicate the communities feedback to others internally, set up relationships to leverage these findings to enhance the bottom line.
- Report back analytics and findings. Create a weekly or monthly report on community metrics. What are they saying? Are new products needed? How has a new product been received? If you don’t report what you know to other teams, change cannot be made.
- Be hyper aware. Know what is going on within the organization. Know everything. To talk as an evangelist or authority, you need to be knowledgeable of what the editorial team is up to. What the business development team is up to, etc.
- If you’re allocating marketing spend on efforts offline (or even elsewhere, online) figure out a way to share these assets with your community. They want these things. Figure out how to share them.
Interested in watching the whole panel? Throw this on in the background while you binge on looking at summer clothes on Pinterest (okay, maybe that’s just me): http://new.livestream.com/accounts/6866291/MRYCMAD