[photo: ©larsonmirek on flickr]
from one conference to another, we jumped right into the HOW conference on monday morning. my conference buddy, beth goldfarb, and i had matching agendas for today, so we got our breakfasts and jumped in.
design and social responsibility
david berman gave a really inspiring presentation on how design can change the world if we start asking what can we do with design, where will we have the greatest impact? he showed several examples of design solutions to seemingly non-design problems where a strategic system + clear information becomes a network for people in need and changes lives. examples: mpedigree.org, innocentive.com and kiva.org. if we had the innovation that created facebook dedicated to good causes, we could change the world. indeed! berman also talked about some of the failures of bad design and how it’s altered the course of history: the palm beach ballot fiasco, how traffic lights could be redesigned for the color blind and how colalife.org is using the space between soda bottles to ship essentials to third world countries. i have seen this theme since the beginning of my involvement in aiga, and am glad to see people are still talking about it, because the movement toward better practices has been a slow one. we helped create consumerism, so we can help move away from it. berman challenged the audience to dedicate 5 hours of their work week to design for worthwhile causes. hopefully those who were moved by this will find a way to make it happen.
a perfect marriage: great design and killer copy
the most effective design i see appeals to me because of how the design and copy interact cleverly, so i was sold on attending this presentation by erin anderson of braintraffic.com. she opened with a common scenario we’ve seen too often: where design of a site and content for it have been developed separately and then pieced together as 11th hour content, which is always less effective than a site that has been developed with design & content hand in hand. web users read 20-28% of the words presented on a web page. don’t fight this fact, plan for it. think about your target audience, their lifestyles and how they interact with information. prioritize content by what you want users to do when they visit, and don’t bury these items with less relevant content. plan content so users see themselves in it. don’t forget about mobile users, low visibility & literacy users, and international users, who may be using a different interface, or may not be able to read the content you’re presenting. in short, for the best outcome, involve your writer early, have them come to all the meetings, involve them in brand objectives and create an editorial style guide so all future content stays on message and within style guidelines. plan an editorial calendar for refreshed content at regular intervals, and do periodic content audits to make sure everything on the site is still relevant. she also gave a run down of best practices writing tips to keep in mind when creating your own content.
how to sell your ideas to bosses, clients, and other decision makers
[photo: ©larsonmirek on flickr]
sam harrison presented how to sell ideas, kicking it off with a funny selection of negative client feedback. often our reaction is to think ‘they just don’t get it’ but this is a dangerous victim mentality. i liked how harrison isolated every aspect of a selling situation and gave examples of best cases and how plan for them. involve clients from the beginning so they are invested in the concept long before the final pitch. know your buyers and how close to buying they are in the spectrum between awareness and action. ask open-ended, simple, and follow up questions, and always add what else should i have asked you? and listen to what might be the most important thing they tell you. every presentation is a performance. they have certain expectations of you, and it’s on you to rise to them. be the best possible version of yourself when you present. get to know the room, practice your delivery, ask for a stress-free time in your client’s schedule, and don’t distract them with hand-outs. then harrison gave his 5 secrets for putting together a good presentation: have 1 theme, open with a strong start using a story, question, fact or quote, use simple language with memorable quotes peppered in, be visual with your words, and add drama using a prop or visual demonstration that makes your point. go in passionately and the client will pick it up. give your ideas the energy they deserve!
mike perry presented on his extensive work outside the strictly commercial, showing illustrations, collaborations, zines and sculptures. his approach to work has turned more into taking commercial work in order to fund an art career where he can explore his own themes and ideas. his work is hard to describe, but take a spin through his site and watch some of the video tours and you’ll get the idea.
kit hinrichs and trish witkowski showed folding techniques from the conventional to the totally awesome, presented by sappi paper. hinrichs showed a selection of his own work, and then witkowski talked about how she got interested in folding, which led her to get a ph.d on the subject. she also presented all kinds of complicated folds—all with the kind suggestion to please talk to your printer and binder through the entire process to insure success. these were really awesome ideas in the area of paper technology, and the presentation came with a book full of diagrams and samples. total paper fetish love!
since this was the only night without a party scheduled, i took it off & went home after dinner. saving my energy for the next 2 days!