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Through The Looking Glass: The Value of Good Design

  1. Steve Floyd Founder / Principle at AXZM twitter: @nawlready phone: (214) 272-9109 www.axzm.com For the last decade I have been creating digital marketing solutions for businesses large and small. In that time I’ve learned a few things about the effect good design has on a campaign and how that design ties into other marketing channels. Content is often swept aside as the last part of a project, when I believe it should be one of the very first things addressed.

Editor's Notes

  1. Through The Looking Glass – The Value of Good Design by Steve Floyd – CEO of AXZM – stevefloyd.me/about
  2. Hello, my name is Steve Floyd. I am the principle consultant and founder of AXZM Group. Before all of that though, I am a father.
  3. I train and build growth teams for healthcare and non-profits these days, but I’ve worked in a wide range of industries and with businesses of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen a little bit of everything.
  4. I’ve had 4 distinct phases of my career and it was always about survival. Those of you who were old enough to work back then probably remember the big shift to web design from print in the late 90’s to circa 2003-2004, from static and flash sites to more dynamic, Content Management Systems 2005-2006, to the social, analytics and big data crunch around 2008-2009 to the most recent API economy, the rise of DevOps, marketing automation and hyper personalization of the last 2-3 years – I’ve seen it flip a few times. We are in a similar shift now. I advise anyone who missed it to review some of the resources I laid out in my presentation from last year “Growth Hacking With APIs”. It will be a very different landscape in just another 3-4 years.
  5. …but BEFORE marketing, before content strategy, before any of these things I’ve learned, I started my career as a graphic designer. As things have come full circle for me over the last few years, it’s become apparent that the fundamentals I learned in design – the eye for detail – laid the foundation for everything I’ve ever done in my career. It has allowed me to effectively communicate my ideas and perspective in a way that helps me stand out above all the noise and hype. It truly is the secret to my success. And that’s what this presentation is all about. The power and value of good design, understanding the perspectives & perceptions of other people involved in the process and hopefully a few ways that we as a community of professionals working on the web can see eye to eye more often than not.
  6. Running my own agency for the last decade has forced me to wear a lot of hats. It’s definitely exposed me to a lot of the problems that all sides of the house (creative, marketing, IT & the C-Suite) often face just trying to meet their individual objectives. Our motivations, how and what we value are tied closely to our own perceptions and professional lens.
  7. I like to compare this paradigm in production to a valley being looked on from a group of surrounding mountains. We are all looking at the same thing, we just see it from a different vantage point.
  8. We get dug in to our careers, our point of view, our preferences, our positions and titles... User Experience Architect
  9. Information Architect
  10. Search Engine Optimization Consultant (SEO)
  11. User Centered Designer
  12. Interaction Designer
  13. Content Strategist
  14. Somewhere in the background DevOps is looming in their lonely mountain to the north.
  15. Even further back, waaaaay back… lost in the catacombs is the C-Suite.
  16. See, if we do a close up, there back there somewhere. Doing lunch and important business meetings about important business meetings.
  17. We have to remember that to the other 90% of the people we interact with, in-house or agency side, this is all just design…
  18. We have to remember that to the other 90% of the people we interact with, in-house or agency side, this is all just design… and….
  19. We have to remember that to the other 90% of the people we interact with, in-house or agency side, this is all just design… and…. marketing.
  20. My point is, a lot of the time we are all really fighting for the same things. We just can’t see it through the fog of our own professional bias. Even the best leaders, project managers, designers, marketers, up and down the entire process have contributed to this at one point or another in their own way. We are all guilty.
  21. I’m not saying we need to all go out and learn every detail of each others disciplines (although it wouldn’t hurt to learn a little), but rather that we all try to see things from each others perspective and perceptions of value.
  22. The C-Suite is almost always going to value profits over anything else. Money keeps the lights on and their jobs come into question when they don’t keep the numbers up. If you want to get a design or idea through, making a business case that aligns with the things they value is a good place to start.
  23. IT values protecting the infrastructure and operational efficiency. Getting a layout change pushed out, title tags, or duplicate content no-indexed isn’t important to them because they have other more pressing issues that take priority going on constantly. Try calculating the financial impact and technical debt of IA and SEO changes when you send a suggestion. They know the C-Suite values money more than anything too and will want to be seen as helping the effort if it involves improved revenue.
  24. Sales values… you guessed it… MONEY. With two dominate forces like leadership often putting profits over their customer experience, it’s not hard to see why so many companies large and small still suck at the web. It’s 2015. If you are a business still trying to figure out how to use Twitter or what a blog is, you lose at the internet.
  25. Marketing is goal driven. It’s not just about the money, but the mission of building the brand. The problem is, one of the biggest components of effective marketing – DESIGN is seen as a utility by leadership. In the same way digital marketing often gets grouped under IT operations, design has become commoditized as a tool of marketing, not the foundation of brand and corporate communications it once was. It pervades everything we see on the web. There are examples everywhere you look…
  26. Yall are playing games out there when it comes down to it though. What we really value always comes out in what we do…
  27. Marketers are some f the worst offenders of this. Marketers be like…
  28. They talk a good game about how important a good user experience is, but half the ones I’ve met in the wild can barely install a Wordpress theme. SEOs in particular have some of the crappiest websites that reinforce bad usability ideas. I hear so many Search Marketers still talking about “Above The Fold”. Is that even a thing anymore? In a world where over half of web traffic is mobile, is it that hard to believe that people scroll?
  29. Developers be like…
  30. Developers will sit in the meetings, agree with the marketing team that load times are critical to better rankings and conversions, yet when it comes time to launch the site, this is what we see again and again.
  31. Yall are playing games though. What we really value always comes out in what we do…
  32. Seriously though, in meetings when IT takes control of a portal with sensitive processes or data, this is the kind of stuff they come up with and no one seems to really care.
  33. Yall are playing games though. What we really value always comes out in what we do…
  34. Seriously though, in meetings when IT takes control of a portal with sensitive processes or data, this is the kind of stuff they come up with and no one seems to really care.
  35. We are all hypocrites! What we value will always come through in our actions and in our work.
  36. We are still witnessing the growing pains of the web. These disciplines have manifested themselves to address the complexity and scope of the internet. There will be even more specialization as the web gets more complex. Understanding starts with language. One of the reasons I love the umbrella of User Experience is because it recognizes all of our respective disciplines and unites us under the most important goal of all – connecting people to experiences.
  37. A simple comparison of the language and value systems of a Content Strategist vs an SEO illustrates my point perfectly. If I asked an SEO and a Content Strategist “Why do you collect keyword data?” I would get two completely different answers.
  38. A content strategist would traditionally collect keyword data to inform demand of a particular topic their audience is interested in or needs.
  39. An SEO on the other hand might use the keyword list to identify advertising opportunities to generate qualified traffic.
  40. A content strategist might use keyword and traffic data as a metric to correlate quality against all the other content in a website.
  41. An SEO on the other hand might use keywords to identify other competitors.
  42. A Content Strategy person might attach popular search terms used by one of their target user personas in a journey map.
  43. An SEO could take the keywords and use them to uncover link building and outreach opportunities for their campaigns.
  44. Cool, so how do we fix it?
  45. It doesn’t need to be fixed because I don’t think it’s really broken, just evolving really fast and it’s hard for everyone involved to keep up. There are some great user experience models out there that can offer a path to keeping everyone on the same page. One of my favorite is CUBI: A User Experience Model for Project Success by Corey Stern published last year on UX Magazine. CUBI stands for… Content User Goals Business Goals Interaction It’s one of the few models that I feel really affords for all the concerns of modern web professionals. Everyone gets to put their deliverable in and it is evaluated in a logical fashion that informs the other pieces. I highly recommend you check it out.
  46. It doesn’t need to be fixed because I don’t think it’s really broken, just evolving really fast and it’s hard for everyone involved to keep up. There are some great user experience models out there that can offer a path to keeping everyone on the same page. One of my favorite is CUBI: A User Experience Model for Project Success by Corey Stern published last year on UX Magazine. CUBI stands for… Content User Goals Business Goals Interaction It’s one of the few models that I feel really affords for all the concerns of modern web professionals. Everyone gets to put their deliverable in and it is evaluated in a logical fashion that informs the other pieces. I highly recommend you check it out.
  47. Another UX method that affords for the other voices in the process nicely is the Design Studio Method. The Design Studio methodology provides a collaborative, pragmatic process of illumination, sketching, presentation, critique, and iteration, leading to a shared vision and hopefully a more coherent and elegant solution. But this is not “design by committee,” by any stretch. Design Studio guides participations through an evolution in experience ideation. Just like business school, it uses a case study approach to solve a unique and clearly defined problem that the team has chosen and that aligns with the business’ strategic roadmap. This ensures that teams don’t wander off the reservation and create the next great snack delivery platform.
  48. Another UX method that affords for the other voices in the process nicely is the Design Studio Method. The Design Studio methodology provides a collaborative, pragmatic process of illumination, sketching, presentation, critique, and iteration, leading to a shared vision and hopefully a more coherent and elegant solution. But this is not “design by committee,” by any stretch. Design Studio guides participations through an evolution in experience ideation. Just like business school, it uses a case study approach to solve a unique and clearly defined problem that the team has chosen and that aligns with the business’ strategic roadmap. This ensures that teams don’t wander off the reservation and create the next great snack delivery platform.
  49. You should also definitely check our Brian Sullivan’s book “The Design Studio Method” there is some great insights and approaches that are invaluable to getting to the core of what a user needs within the context of design.
  50. You should also definitely check our Brian Sullivan’s book “The Design Studio Method” on the topic of collaborative design. There are some great insights and approaches that are invaluable to getting to the core of what a user needs within the context of design. I highly recommend you go buy it on Amazon now. (make a joke about getting paid to endorse the book).
  51. You should also check out my free Content Strategy Worksheet 2.0. I have been updating it since I first released it here at Big Design way back in 2012 and it’s always evolving. It is by no means a silver bullet, I suggest you customize it for your needs as every project is different, but hopefully it helps you centralize all the key documents your team needs and gives you a starting point.
  52. You should also check out my free Content Strategy Worksheet 2.0. I have been updating it since I first released it here at Big Design way back in 2012 and it’s always evolving. It is by no means a silver bullet, I suggest you customize it for your needs as every project is different, but hopefully it helps you centralize all the key documents your team needs and gives you a starting point.
  53. Frontify is one of my favorite new tools for centralizing and consolidating a brand. As a lot of you know, if you really want to get everyone on the same page and let them in on the thinking behind your design, and avoid politics, get a branding guide. Frontify is a great way for you to develop a branding guide in a collaborative way with the rest of your team.
  54. You should also check out my free Content Strategy Worksheet 2.0. I have been updating it since I first released it here at Big Design way back in 2012 and it’s always evolving. It is by no means a silver bullet, I suggest you customize it for your needs as every project is different, but hopefully it helps you centralize all the key documents your team needs and gives you a starting point.
  55. Another great resource you might send to a team member who is trying to adapt to the lingo is UI Patterns. There is a ton of documentation on everything they would possibly want to know about modern web and mobile design principles and processes.
  56. Another great resource you might send to a team member who is trying to adapt to the lingo is UI Patterns. There is a ton of documentation on everything they would possibly want to know about modern web and mobile design principles and processes.
  57. If you should feel adventurous, I highly recommend SourceMaking’s Software Design Pattern resources. It will help you understand the Klingon that your developers speak a little better.
  58. Another great resource you might send to a team member who is trying to adapt to the lingo is UI Patterns. There is a ton of documentation on everything they would possibly want to know about modern web and mobile design principles and processes.
  59. You should also definitely check our Brian Sullivan’s book “The Design Studio Method” on the topic of collaborative design. There are some great insights and approaches that are invaluable to getting to the core of what a user needs within the context of design. I highly recommend you go buy it on Amazon now. (make a joke about getting paid to endorse the book).
  60. About Me For the last decade I have been creating digital marketing solutions for businesses large and small. In that time I’ve learned a few things about the governance and creation of web content and how that content ties into other marketing channels. Content is often swept aside as the last part of a project, when I believe it should be one of the very first things addressed (even before design).
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