Defining a life well lived was simpler before the digital age. Things like happiness, providing for your family, integration into your community – and let’s face it, just survival & reproduction, could easily define success in life.
Many would argue these still define a good life, but the world has changed and is immensely more complicated.
There are seven billion people on the planet. We face digital and sensory overload, being exposed to over 5 million ads per year. We each watch 3000 hours per year of TV. We have weapons that could annihilate the entire world many times over. We send 400 million tweets per day. We “Like” something on Facebook over 30 billion times per week. The environment is disintegrating before our eyes. Consumerism is a like a sugar high for our self esteem. Factory farms ruin the environment and create hell on earth for our animal friends. Technology will soon outpace our ability to manage, understand, and co-exist with our own inventions.
Communities and families are fractured – especially in Western civilizations. Gone are the days and where communities were really communities. We’re a collection of houses with Wi-Fi connections.
We’re closer to our digital families than our real families many times – or we at least seek their approval more. Getting liked on Facebook or being retweeted carries more social equity than real life interactions.
I’m not criticizing digital or social media, but I am asking a question.
"Don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?” questioned 9-year-old Hanna Robison to McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, making the head of one of the largest corporations in the world uneasy and struggle for an answer like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Before, such questions could easily be bypassed with a patronizing response and a Happy Meal. Today, not so much.
Hannah is part of the Millennial audience, young upstarts who are more skeptical and informed than past generations due to a little thing called the Internet. Not only does she have the opportunity to ask such a question, but she also has the right to be taken seriously.
This is the problem that brands are facing in the Information Age as they are constantly caught off-guard by consumers who now have just as much power as a CMO. How can brands deal with Millennials? Well first, beyond technology and social media, we need to take a look at what they want from the brands they patronize.
Do you remember Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill”? I loved this song growing up. In it, the bill starts as an idea and by going through a defined process becomes a real bill and eventually a law! To me, this ties in closely with the job of a PM. As the project manager for some unique and very fun clients, I get to take projects from an idea to a real bill!. Or PPC campaign. Or nonprofit website promoting animal welfare. Or any number of exciting outcomes.
I may be completely biased, but I think project managers are amazing. I mean, think about it. Project managers take a thought in someone’s head, plan out all the details, work to make sure there aren’t any major roadblocks in the way, motivate their team to complete the work, and then present a fully finished project at the end to their clients or stakeholders. Just like the bill from Schoolhouse Rock.
At a lot of places, though, PMs can be a bit undervalued. On the surface, our job is easy. Some might think that all PMs do is assign deliverables for other team members to complete or nag people about when they’re going to be finished. When you think of it that way, are Project Managers really necessary?
The answer is yes… of course! But it’s not because you need someone to define scope, assess potential risks, and manage timelines for deliverables. Good PMs do those things and do them well. However, it’s the PMs that go beyond just getting the project completed and out the door that make themselves indispensable to their teams. To become a Great PM, you have to learn to put the end user first.
This city has given us a lot. We first started Nebo in a third floor walkup in downtown Atlanta – on Mitchell Street to be precise. The rent was $925/month. It had big windows and great lighting, and we had access to the best shoe cobbler in the city on the bottom floor.
Atlanta was the perfect place to get a company off the ground. It had big brands we could pitch, an abundance of talent to recruit and a community who opened their arms to welcome us as a new firm. Even potential competitors gave us advice and guidance when we first started. Southern hospitality is real.
Then eight years ago, we moved to the fledgling West Midtown design district. Nebo, Octane Coffee, Rocket Science Group (best known for MailChimp) and a few other digital firms were some of the first to migrate to this now vibrant part of town.
The first time someone tried to design a web page with a search engine algorithm in mind is lost to history, but we do know that since its beginnings in the early ‘90s SEO has grown from a siloed marketing activity with little love and Wild West tactics to an important piece in the art of building a modern brand in a digital world.
The history of SEO is in many ways a microcosm of the history of modern marketing, and provides lessons about not just where marketing has come from, but also where it’s headed in 2013 and beyond.
The world is becoming increasingly complex. There are more platforms, more devices, and more complexity than ever. Today’s digital interfaces aren’t as self evident as yesterday’s mechanical ones and, with more choices than ever, people won’t tolerate interfaces that aren’t elegant and intuitive. They’ll just go elsewhere for a better solution to their problems.
That’s why we need Human-Centered Design.
By understanding the needs, wants, perceptions and aspirations of our users, we can build better experiences.
While there are no shortcuts to building great experiences, here are a few small steps you can take toward humanizing your design process.