It’s easy enough to start with the assumption that your organization’s business strategy already includes investing in creating a good customer experience. In fact, I am not convinced any well-intentioned person in any well-intentioned organization could or would argue rationally that a difficult user experience provides their business with a long-term competitive advantage.
Even with the short-term wins that come with dark design patterns, you leave your organization open to nimble, user-centered competitors or innovative startups who will give customers what they want if you won’t. These threats are easy for some very large organizations to sustain, simply because of…
Ask anyone who spends time outdoors. Ankle Biters (those little bugs that hang out in tall grass and bite) aren’t dangerous like snakes. But if you don’t plan for them with tall socks and bug spray, they’ll cover your legs in whelps and you’ll be tending bites for days. You may think they’re just an annoyance, but the bites can become infected and cause major issues if not treated properly. Get enough of them, and they can be debilitating.
Let me paint a picture of an Ankle Biter that pops up in the agency world all too often. In this…
There are two things that go into making something artful and wonderful. Those two things are expertise and inspiration.
It’s generally accepted that expertise comes the hard way — from years of listening, learning, practicing, working hard and sticking with it until you know where the shortcuts are and aren’t.
Inspiration, on the other hand, is different. On its surface, inspiration seems to come from somewhere magical, unknown and mysterious—people talk about the creative process surrounding inspiration like it’s been hidden for centuries and was just recently unearthed, a perfectly preserved relic from a mystical past.
The truth is much…
“🎵Everybody looks good at the starting line. But going the distance is the hard part, son 🎵”
—Paul Thorn (musician, artist, and winner of boxing’s Mid-South Middleweight Championship in Memphis, TN)
Midnight in Memphis, September 17, 2018, day one. Something big happened: a server lit up, and the neon glow of a news site flicked on for the first time. The Daily Memphian went live.
What really matters, though, is what happens on day two and each day after that. On September 18, it happened…
You spend the rest of your evening distracted. You’re up late after your family goes to bed, scrolling through todo lists and email on your phone, desperately trying to remember what you forgot.
Finally, you understand what happened. You forgot to leave work. You physically left work for the day, but your mind stayed behind.
I know this feeling all too well. At Simple Focus, this constant worrying led me to reimagine Ballpark as a tool that keeps my business from keeping me up at night.
That’s what I’m announcing today: Ballpark has been completely redesigned to give you the…
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Sharon, a young student entering her freshman year of college. Here’s what she wrote:
Subject: I want to be your next visual designer — but how can I get there?
My name is Sharon, and I am entering my freshman year at a liberal arts university with a rather traditional feel. I’ve always been interested in graphic design, code, and the general aesthetics of everything, and over the past couple of years I’ve realized that I would really love to work in the creative industry.
I was wondering if any…
In October of 2013, I spent six intense months worrying, running numbers, pumping myself up, and convincing myself (and my wife, Katie) that it wasn’t a horrible, terrible, profoundly stupid idea to spend our personal savings to buy a business, Pulse.
I was already a business owner, so this wasn’t exactly as risky as quitting a steady job and becoming a first-time business owner. But, there’s a big difference between running a small studio and “acquiring a company.”
I mean, I was putting everything we’d worked for years to save on the line here.
The night before I signed the…
I’ve bought and operate a lot of SaaS businesses, and I run two agencies as well. Over the years, I’ve looked at a lot of companies, especially SaaS.
Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two: most importantly, I know what is a fit for me and what is not. I have a few questions I ask in the beginning, and the answers to these questions either pique my interest or make it easy to respond with, “Sorry, this isn’t a fit for me right now.”
People always ask me for what I look for when I buy an…
At Harvard Business School (HBS), the really good stuff isn’t taught to the students. Instead, it’s asked of them. They call it the Case Method.
Here’s how it works: you’re sent home with a story (or case) to read, which involves a protagonist who faced a complex or nuanced business decision. Based on true events, the case includes all the relevant information the protagonist had to work with. But it doesn’t tell you how things ended up working out; instead, it leaves you hanging with some version of, “So, if you were the protagonist, what would you do?”
“I agree with you that it’s a good idea and would be awesome for our customers, but we just can’t do that. The Business wouldn’t go for it, much less Legal.”
That’s it, the idea is squashed. Or is it? The question you ask next is important, so think about it carefully.
I submit there are two brand archetypes: