A quick synopsis of the Planningness Conference from last month. It's not comprehensive of the whole weekend of wonderful information, but a fun overview of some of the sessions I attended. Enjoy, share and please comment away!
Overview of Conference
San Francisco, CA October 15-17
The overall sentiment of the The feeling that change was But it’s not just about talking
planning conference was very imminent and that we would be about how we re going to
much the “anti-conference”. It the ones to make the changes. change things. It’s about
wasn’t about egos and puffery- Not only our job, but truly our creating the tools to make it
it was about learning, playing duty to spread the word to our happen and start implementing.
and collaborating with each respective agencies and Needless to say, we’re bonded
other to learn and grow. planning communities. It’s not a now. If through nothing else,
time to sit on the sidelines, it’s through our planningness wiki
It was a team based approach the time to JOIN the (see link on page 7)
for our two days of intensive conversation and make GREAT
sessions, as we were things happen. The next few pages are quick
constantly thrown into small summaries of some of the most
groups, which allowed for You could see that conversation outstanding seminars. Also
amazing collaboration with starting merely by the numbers have other thoughts on my blog
some of the most inspiring of folks tweeting #planningness, and twitter (of course).
thinkers I’ve ever met. throughout the conference. www.adthoughtspot.com
“Design innovation has “tipped”...
Consumers now demand more
than just useful tools. They
demand things that connect with
their everyday lives.”
Designing a Successful User Experience
Nasahn Sheppard + Nellie Ling, Smart Design
In a session led by Nasahn and Nellie from Smart Design 1) There is no substitute to observing REAL people (always
took us through a quick overview of some fundamentals of have users LIVE with a prototype and observe how
their design strategy. Smart Design has developed some behaviors naturally occur.
amazing products-from a variety of OXO products-- 2) Redesign the user experience, forms become very
changing a very price driven, solely functional category (like important here (the physical product) as you have three
a simple vegetable peeler) into one that now factors in user key “reads” in the consumers mind i) the 30 millisecond
experience--aesthetic and function. True blend of design exposure (at point of sale), ii) ﬁrst touch (consumer picks
principles. After a brief lecture, we were tasked with taking up the product--tactile experience) iii) living with the
to the streets of San Francisco--taking out a simple SIGG- product (“will I buy this again?”)
type water bottle and getting their reads on the design/ 3) Focus groups don't really matter, uncover insights in real
usability of the bottle, coming back together to pull our context. Dig into users environments to ﬁnd the real
insights into actionable next steps. truths. Let the users tell you what they are about, and
wherever possible step into your users shoes (live like
Three key areas were explored as core to understanding your consumers).
the consumer experience when designing new to world, or http://www.smartdesignworldwide.com/
new to industry products:
“Being GOOD isn’t about altruism.
It is about meeting in a space
where idealism meets
How to Save the World
Max Schorr, GOOD Magazine
Max Schorr co-founder of GOOD Magazine was tasked Great example of “awesomeness” is the redeﬁned Nau
with a pretty complex topic: How to Save the World. While brand, which is has baked in these four pillars into the
GOOD publication is deﬁnitely a part of this movement latest incarnation of the brand.
towards societal “goodness” he made one thing incredibly
clear: GOOD is not about altruism or pro bono work. It’s Awesomeness will only get you so far--the truly successful
about ﬁnding that ideal space between pragmatism and companies are the ones who can CODE these pillars into
idealism. Being GOOD can be GOOD for business as it is language that Wall Street understands: growth, return on
for the rest of society. capital, risk management and management quality. All
factors that must be taken into account when creating
His next point referenced the Awesomeness Manifesto great products that may ultimately save the world. Or at
(Umair Haque, Harvard Business) which outlines four pillars least help it rather than hinder.
of awesomeness: 1) Ethical Production (cradle to cradle) 2)
Insanely great stuff (iPod, iPhone) 3) Love (basis of all real http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/haque/2009/09/
value creation, Etsy, IBM Corporate Services Corps) 4) is_your_business_innovative_or.html
Think value (real, meaningful, sustainable) http://www.good.is/
“Whatever you do, make sure it’s
worth talking about.”
Advocacy and Conversation
Frank Striefler, Media Arts Lab
Frank Strieﬂer gave the group a great perspective on what 2) Deﬁne your role in CULTURE
advocacy means in today’s ever-changing market. I was 3) Create better products
lucky enough to help out with this one, so hopefully I’ll be 4) Create super-satisfaction and exceed expectations
able to encapsulate a bit of what learned in this little 5) Bake the STORY of the product INTO the product
synopsis. ...and a well thought through advocacy model to shifting
consumer behavior follows (please see presentation SL 36).
A brand advocate will convince others to purchase through Also a really great tool kit of tactics at the very end that helps
independent credibility, defends and supports your brand bring this to life.
and puts his own reputation on the line. Why do advocates
matter? Because WOM is still the #1 purchase decision Conversation becomes a means by which advocacy may be
inﬂuencer. Period. Advertising is a distant ﬁfth. Reality will cultivated and fostered. Conversation is now easier (and at
trump image every time, 70% will recommend based on times more elusive) than ever thanks to social media. A ﬁnal
expectation beating experience, while a mere 2% will be key thought to social media is DON’T start with platforms but
prompted by advertising. And the recession only ampliﬁes rather start with a social IDEA.
Full presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/strieﬂerf/
The steps we have to take to make advocacy happen: planningness-conference-draft1?src=embed
1) Deﬁne your story
“Don’t get in the way of the user.”
How to Design Applications
Nick Baum, Google
Nick Baum from Google Chrome, took this eager group of 1) Don’t waste pixels. Even if you’ve added a ton of
planners on a trip of a lifetime--down the road of a functionality into an experience, it shouldn’t LOOK that
application designer. Now I’ve never designed any such complex.
things, but proved to be a great thinking exercise in user 2) Only show features that are actually used. This
experience. From our rough sketches of the app itself (ours sometimes means trial and error--and yes, actually
was designed to resolve the tab overﬂow problems), we incorporating users into the equation; testing (informal or
moved onto “test” phase (switching groups and formal) is necessary in seeing how regular users will
explaining/”pitching” our thoughts)--we quickly learned, a interact (take it to the cafeteria, who knows what you’ll
critical phase in any app development. get!)
3) Use data and algorithms to make the UI simpler.
The Google User Interface philosophy is at its heart, quite Simplicity is king at Google, but tools like autoﬁll took
simple. Speed is essential and don’t get in the way of the much time and analysis to get right.
user. Easier said than done as we soon learned!) 4) Make features discoverable- make the experience ﬂow
easily from one experience to the next
Four key tactics to successful UI: 5) Don’t get in the way of the user!
http://www.google.com/chrome (not for Mac yet though)
“No better urgency than a
customer screaming at you.”
How to Create A Successful Web Experience
Garry Tan, Posterous
Garry Tan, founder of Posterous/web guru, took us through When we design web experiences, you have to build in a
his take on creating truly successful web experiences- persona. Great example that he cited was fanatical
which included a two-fold analysis of web experiences: customer service. Posterous will answer any email within
physical design and user experience. 12 hours--they found that every user could possibly bring in
10 more if they had a positive experience. That’s why.
Relative to design, using weight and spacing in to convey
importance. Using lines and boxes should be a last resort- Why else? Because other people aren’t, it’s a way to stay
ﬁnd ways to play with spacing, weight and alignment to competitive and unique. Finally, it gives you (the company)
design. Ever wonder why the NYTimes.com looks so a constant sense of urgency, from those who matter. Your
great? Well, it is also based on the grid system--utilizing consumers. This is how you build a true social
COPY as an element of design, which is also the basis of phenomenon. A great example of this is Spotify (music
designing the good, old-fashioned newspaper. service in the UK/Europe) which is simple, fast and
Coincidence? I think not. incredibly conversational in nature and offered excellent
customer service. They have spent $0 on marketing.
UI can basically be broken down into a conversation. Compare to Rhapsody, a similar service who is struggling
Why? Because people treat computers like people. They and spending $234M in marketing efforts.
expect it to act in a way a person would, not a machine.
“Modern brands aren’t built
through communications, they are
defined by what they do... Modern
brands aren’t built around a
promise they’re built around a
How to Plan in the 21st Century
Adrian Ho + Rob White, Zeus Jones
The ﬁnal presentation, deﬁnitely the rallying cry of a going with the modern incarnations (and ultimately how
presentation from the conference with Adrian and Rob. It they were more desirable). Examples included the Pledge
stressed the shift from “classic brands” to “modern brands”. brand versus the Method brand, United versus Jet Blue and
incredibly interesting one with Blockbuster versus Netﬂix.
They expressed modern brands as being built on the Great stuff to view in the presentation.
following foundations: From there was the FUN part. Breaking convention and
- Branding building through experiences not image. creating our OWN tools. We only had 20 minutes, so this
- Building through interactions scratches the surface, but is thought provoking and a
- It’s not about a “big idea”--the more ideas your brand has, glimpse into what is coming. Hopefully we all keep our
the more conversations you will yield. promises to keep contributing to the wiki itself.
- Built around BELIEFS not promises
- Built around what they DO not what they SAY Full Presentation:
- Live in the hearts of your employees ﬁrst, not customers http://www.slideshare.net/zeusjones/modern-brands-v1?
Going through some fantastic examples of “classic brands” Planning Wiki:
versus the “modern brands” was the next task. Utilizing http://www.zeusjones.com/blog/2009/planningness-new-
brand tags to help illustrate where consumers hearts were marketing-tools/
Overall some key takeaways (sorry if they feel a bit ﬂuffy, but And ﬁnally other great presentations that I did not attend, but
I’m going to keep it fairly broad): found incredibly interesting as well. Connections Planning
talk with Gareth Kay and Jason Oke was pretty phenomenal
- It’s time to redeﬁne advertising. Simply, the whole world and deﬁnitely a must view.
is changing and we must be prepared to adapt.
- Be a part of something bigger. Connections Planning:
- User experience is critical to creating rich digital http://www.slideshare.net/jasonoke/connections-
experiences. This involves understanding a human planningness?src=embed
interaction, not just a machine-driven technology. The Experimentation Imperative: Clay Jones
- Test and re-test. Getting as much feedback from as many http://www.slideshare.net/exitcreative/the-experimentation-
people when creating something new is critical (real people imperative
and the people who exist within 5 feet of you). Don’t
discredit exercises like man-on-the-street or talking to Some key readings from our advocacy talk I would
friends/co-workers when assessing the feasibility of an recommend:
idea. - Socialnomics: Eric Qualmann
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and create. We’re in a - Groundswell: Charlene Li
time and space where it’s completely possible to try - And Then There’s This: Bill Wasik
something new every day. If you don’t have a tool that will - Age of Conversation 2
make it work, take the time and create it. Then share it with - Tribes: Seth Godin
the community, get feedback and allow the constant - Six Degrees: Duncan Watts
exchange of information to move us ALL forward. - Baked In: John Winsor/Alex Bogusky
- Trust Agents: Chris Brogan