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December 22, 2011 - No Comments!

Great Design Is Now The Currency

With the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Path taking big steps towards 'great' design we are starting to see the era of design come to light. It may seem biased from a designers point of view, but it only takes a moment for anyone to look at all the old/new services being represented with incredible user interfaces, solid user experience flow and gorgeous branding throughout. Great design is now the currency.

Many of us should be thankful to the behemoth that is Apple - who played the underdog for many years until finally finding its feet with the 'iRange'. Companies have since replicated the simplicity, elegance and beauty that is the Apple products as Apple moved to become the most valuable company worldwide. Their push into top position sparked the adoption of gorgeous design across the web and mobile alike. Of course, it's not just Apple that pushed the envelope. Many companies had already started shifting their focus towards a cleaner look, sexier user interfaces and a focus on seemingly irrelevant design details that even Steve Jobs would have appreciated.

There was a time recently where designers were an afterthought, an addon to an already existing product. Now designers are leading services with their unique vision, giving their products the edge needed in an over-saturated market. This big push into design has spurred on a flurry of activity in terms of new hires, incredible apps, designer co-founders and more. But what will the currency of design look like as the year rolls on?

Late 2011: Designers create new vision & push the boundaries in various areas of the tech landscape

As we've witnessed, Google+ has brought their UI/UX into line across multiple products (Youtube, Gmail, Reader, Google+) while Twitter pushed a completely new interface for its mobile market (to be later rolled into their core product). Many other companies have developed into new fields and led the way with new designs that have inspired many.

Early 2012: Customers/Sales define the leading designs - Companies start redeveloping to utilise the most popular design aspects

In a matter of months we are likely to see duplications of previous designs, layouts, buttons and other UI components at play. Naturally, this will alter the user experience and effect how websites and apps are used. Customers will request (design) features from other successful products and companies will adopt elements to suit.

Mid 2012: Many products become visually aligned - Interfaces are continually tweaked with small updates vs large redesigns or redefining concepts

Websites and apps will be at a stage where the functionality of their products will only slightly differ in the way of design. Animations, icons, flow and overall styling will have a familiar feel as customers jump between different platforms. In light of this, many companies will begin to alter their focus away from design, leaving only small tweaks in the spotlight.

Late 2012: Design hits a peak of awareness and alignment - Design begins to take a sidestep to the next focus area of the tech landscape

Design as a currency will funnel into a merge point. At this time, many companies will already be focused on the next big 'edge' for their products and stepping up to put that into motion. Design will not disappear - it will become an important element of a product but not nearly as powerful as the months prior.

Do you believe great design is now the currency? Share your opinion in the comments.

If you enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter.

May 19, 2011 - 3 comments

Are You Paying Attention? @AirTran

To many, Twitter is a fantastic tool to communicate with other like-minded people, share great information and advertise the latest offers. Some even go one step further and connect with fans and friends alike. But what happens when a company creates a profile and then neglects to update it for a year and a half? I write a post about it.

Link to full image

In the above image you will see the AirTran Airways neglected Twitter account.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that AirTran have 7,545 Followers, their Klout score is quite high (which means they get mentioned a lot) and they actually state in their first and only Tweet from October 2009: "...we'll be tweeting with you soon". Personally, I'm not going to hold my breath.

With a quick bit of research I worked out that AirTran run a few different types of planes - one of them a Boeing 717, which is capable of seating up to 117 passengers on a full flight.

That's the equivalent of approximately 64 fully booked Boeing 717's just sitting on the tarmac.

Look at the missed customer service and marketing opportunities that have flown by in just the last 5 hours (not forget the last year and a half).

Now I don't know the financial or working details behind a low-cost airline, but I know there are departments who look after the airlines advertising and customer service. By simply realising the untapped connections on their own page they could potentially save hundreds (if not thousands) per year on direct marketing and customer support. A quick @reply or discount card to some of the customers above could have brought in some great publicity, or at the very least turned negative experiences into future positives.

So how did they miss this? And why do they continue to neglect a potential gold mine of repeat customers?

@AirTran, are you paying attention?


UPDATE: A day after I emailed them via their website I got a reply:

"Thank you for contacting AirTran Airways. I have forwarded this information to our Social Media Specialist".

I'm glad they forwarded it on to their Social Media Specialist, but I would love to know what they currently get paid to do!

May 10, 2011 - 6 comments

Keep It Real Aaaaaight!

With so many Social Tools to share updates it's very easy to get lost. It's even easier to get sucked into following the trends that gain you more followers, get you quick attention and more. But where do you draw the line?

As the great Ali G says: "Keep It Real, Aaaaaight."

This simple humourous saying is such a good mental keepsake that I say it to myself at least once a week. The moment I start to drift into the "I know how to get more clicks" territory I lose focus on being real. It's enticing to build and write content that will be seen by thousands of eyeballs, but you need to have the 'stance' to back it up. Not to mention the amount of work you will have to do to keep those people coming back once they have been burnt by your rubbish article.

The reason this is so important these days is the upcoming standard in how we communicate. Very soon, human curated news will be the norm across all news channels. We will be relying on individuals more than ever to feed us content that impacts us, rather than 80% of the trash that fills the papers. We are also moving into an age where video is becoming common place amongst companies the world over, and internal social presenters will be sought out to carry the message of the brand in play.

If you can already see through the fake 'link-bait' articles that contain so much spam, ad links and useless knowledge, imagine what it will be like when we are all online showing our faces and speaking our own words!

If you are tempted to head down the Black-Hat road to increase your blog hits, Twitter friends or unique visits, remember this: Honesty is King.

It takes years to build a proper social network, and only seconds to ruin it.

May 9, 2011 - No Comments!

Avoid The Quick Rome

Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither were the skilled workers taught the art of crafting a wall, or breaking apart rocks and hauling them to their destination. But Rome also wasn't built by mass-marketing the message. It was built one connection at a time, designer to architect, architect to worker, worker to supplier.

In this 'mass-marketing' society it is easy to forget how simple it is to build true connections in favor of a Quick Rome.

A true connection happens with one person, in one discussion, over one platform. It's these mini connections that will drive the core of your social network and create a solid social presence from day one. What's the point of having 1 million connections if you only interact and 'influence' 1%. Avoid mass-marketing and connect with people who understand your message and can inspire you to go further.

May 5, 2011 - No Comments!

How To Become Influential

In the past year I have been able to connect with some pretty influential people. It was as simple as leaving a thankyou on their page and getting a response, or receiving a follow from someone I had Retweeted earlier.

Years before I felt I didn't have the 'chops' to talk to these people as I was at a small level of influence in their network. Thanks to the constant power of the internet, this is no longer the case.

Note: Social Influence scores are indicated by Klout.

It's About Engagement

Engagement. We hear the word often, but only a few actually keep it in focus for long periods of time. Yet, it's the constant engagement with our friends, fans, followers and people we are following that is actually the most important path when building our social network. Talking only about yourself will lose you friends, fans and followers because you are not engaging with anyone.

WHAT TO DO: Share other people's articles, reply to everyone and be personal.

WHAT TO STOP: Buying fans, sharing your posts exclusively and ignoring people.

Gary Vaynerchuk says it perfectly in his book The Thank You Economy (a must read!) with the line "No Interaction Left Behind". Even with his busy schedule of speaking engagements, web videos and more he still takes time to connect with everyone he can. Which is why it is even easier for someone who is relatively unknown to connect with another with higher social influence. It's no wonder Gary's score on Klout is very high:

Show The Real You

Another factor of social influence is to be influential in some way by showing the real you. It sounds self-explanatory, but only a few actually do this well. Being influential is as simple as sharing an article of interest, showing something exclusive to your fans or sharing your opinions about a hot topic. The people who can get this right will have the biggest impact, even if they only have a small amount of fans.

WHAT TO DO: Share interesting articles, show exclusive content and be opinionated.

WHAT TO STOP: Faking your persona, hiding from the world and sitting on the fence.

Jason Calacanis is extremely influential to me. He constantly connects with people by sharing videos through This Week In Startups, in which he works with a small (but growing) team to interview and connect with early to established Startups and also covers topics from founding to failure. He is very opinionated and real, and although I don't agree with everything he says, he stands strong with his views and that allows him to be bold when moving forward.

Be Humble And Confident

Being humble and confident at the same time can often be a challenge. But challenges are worth every second if you can better yourself. By listening to those around you and understanding where they are coming from with their views, it makes it much easier to work out where to go to next with your personal brand, business and attitude. Honesty is the key.

WHAT TO DO: Be confident with your choices, listen to feedback, thank people for helping you.

WHAT TO STOP: Thinking you're better than anyone, ignoring people who are 'smaller' than you, being afraid to say sorry.

Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) is very confident in his approach when dealing with other artists, fans and followers. He is constantly connecting with his fans with live video feeds from his house, studio and on the road through his Ustream channel and Facebook page. Even though he has a massive worldwide following through his incredible music career, he still shows he is only human when chatting to his fans live. He answers live questions from his fans and shows behind the scenes work directly from his computer. Occasionally, he will be opinionated when mentioning another artist stealing samples or not releasing a good record - which he will apologise for later after it causes a massive media frenzy of problems and mixed emotions.

How else can you be influential?

November 7, 2010 - 4 comments

Are You Right?

It's you. It's them. It's everything we know online. It's how we interact with others, how we connect to our friends and how we create our circles.

Our online personas are crafted by subconscious thought, often borrowing many traits that we hold in our offline actions and thoughts. We use it everyday, yet many don't take the time to step back and realise if their online persona is the right one for them.

If you are questioning why there is a drop in replies to your Twitter updates, why clients have been asking for things you don't advertise for or why your brilliantly crafted articles are not being shared to Facebook, maybe it might be time to re-evaluate your online persona.

It may be as simple as altering your tagline, changing your pictures or adding more humour into your posts. Sure you can read this, nod in agreement and then take no action, but subconsciously, you will welcome the change. That's what modifying your persona is all about - right?

August 25, 2010 - No Comments!

Is Producing The New DJ’ing?

The music industry has gone through many changes over the years but nothing seems to have hit it harder than the arrival of the Internet. The Internet appears to have completely changed the game to the point where the big labels/corporations are still struggling to find their feet. Previously, DJ's who were lucky enough to buy the first release of an LP were usually the only ones to have it in their area, thus propelling their star further for having the freshest tracks.

But these days, anyone with an Internet connection can access the latest music, sometimes even before it has been officially released worldwide. This situation has been changing the general appeal of the DJ for some time to the point where producers seem to have been overtaking the lime-lite. From where I sit I continually see producers getting more attention through the Internet in terms of events, opportunities and even fans.

Some producers have set the world alight in such a short time with their incredible productions, leaving the actual art of DJ'ing to second place. One producer in particular (love him or loathe him) is Deadmau5. His productions are state of the art; colossal beasts that have generated a massive fan-base in a ridiculously short amount of time. With the aid of the Internet (and portals such as Ustream, Youtube and Beatport), Deadmau5 has been able to craft a career focusing on his skills as a producer first, before any DJ'ing actually took place.

And he's not alone. There are a ton of other artists gaining increasing attention for their productions and overtaking spots usually reserved for extremely skillful DJ's. In some cases (and it seems to be growing by the day), the Producers are able to sell out shows much quicker without the actual proof that they can DJ and/or even have a live act presence. But that doesn't stop the hordes of fans wanting to get a glimpse of an artist that inspires/moves and fuels them with their creations that other DJ's often can't match.

The shift is happening right now. And to stay on board with current demands (and eager/impatient downloaders) veteran and fresh DJ's alike may have to start considering the addition of 'producer' to their title or they may find themselves lost in the sea of creators.

Agree or Disagree? Drop your thoughts to my Twitter or Facebook page.

- Diesel Laws