We’re ready to impart more wisdom from Launch Art Director Reuben Miller’s experience at the 2010 HOW Conference.
An interesting session, “Building a Business: If I Knew Then What I Know Now,” featured Brian Dougherty and Marcia Hoeck. Dougherty is a founding partner of Celery Design Collaborative, which has studios in both California and Paris. Marcia Hoeck is president of Hoeck Associates, Inc. and acts as a business coach. Her mantra is, “Create a business that will run without you.” These two entrepreneurs described their tried-and-true methods for starting a successful business and growing it — specifically, how to keep from getting sidetracked so you can focus on why you started the business in the first place.
Next they explained Dougherty’s “design backwards” approach. By starting from a design project’s ultimate destination and working backwards, designers are able to make more informed choices, allowing them to creatively avoid many roadblocks that might prevent solutions. The best way to begin brainstorming is to imagine the “best possible destiny for a design. Next, imagine the user’s experience with the design and envision scenarios that would make the experience particularly memorable or valuable.”
Reuben said the last session he attended featured “the most inspirational speaker [he'd] ever seen.” The session, “Rediscovering Play: Bringing Fun and Passion to Your Work. . .and Life,” was given by Kevin Carroll.
Carroll’s childhood was less than idyllic; his parents struggled with substance abuse problems, so he moved in with his his grandparents. One day, he found a red rubber ball on the playground, and from that point on, focused his life on the pursuit of fun and the “red rubber ball mentality.” Now he collects different and interesting balls from all around the world as a source of inspiration. After 10 years in the air force, Carroll spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers and Nike before starting his own business, Kevin Carroll Katalyst/LLC. We don’t do Carroll’s story justice, so check it out after finishing our post.
One of Reuben’s takeaways from HOW was that, “It’s an incredible asset to be a great presenter; it can be the tipping point between whether an idea sells or not.”
Find more information on 2010 Conference sessions visit the HOW website.
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We like to stay on the cutting edge of . . . well . . . everything here at Launch, so we sent Art Director Reuben Miller to this year’s HOW Conference to learn everything he could about technology and design. From printing to design programs to sources of inspiration, Reuben absorbed it all and, fortunately for us, shared his knowledge.
The first session attended was “Inspiration: You Are What You Keep” by Gail Anderson—creative director of design at SpotCo. Her main message was that when we’re young, we gravitate toward certain things, and as we get older, we begin to identify what those things are and use them for inspiration. Those different sources of inspiration make individual designers unique.
Next up, “Print to Web Breakthrough,” was delivered by Mark O’Brien, president of Newfangled Web Developers. Reuben learned a few tricks to make websites more crawlable. For starters, keeping a 300 to 500 word digital newsletter that gets updated once a month is a good way to keep Google bots interested in your site. This will keep your domain high on the Google search list. O’Brien also told attendees of a new web service that allows designers to use non-website-compatible fonts. This service serves up fonts every time a page loads, so that designers can choose any font when creating a website. This allows people to take their favorite fonts online and differentiate their site from others’.
In “Good vs. Great Design”, speaker Cameron Moll, co-author of CSS Mastery and author of Mobile Web Design, pointed out that most people use the word “inspiration” incorrectly. What they really mean is “influence.” An influence is something that affects your ideas, whereas inspiration is the product of your creative thinking and work. Inspiration is something that is earned, while influences can be found anywhere. In the end, the best designs come from turning the things we love, our influences, into something that others can find value in. Moll stated that most of us are starters – we have tons of great ideas, but that’s where they end. Those ideas never reach fruition because most people aren’t finishers. An inhibitor to becoming a finisher is stress, but there is also good stress, which Moll termed “eustress.” Eustress comes from activities that push us in an enjoyable way, such as working out. Last, but not least, Moll touched on the “blur test” in relation to digital hierarchy. As taught in design school, when you look at a design and blur your eyes, you’ll be able to see what jumps out the most. With print, and especially digital, creating a hierarchy is the art of managing, not eliminating elements.
Reuben’s last seminar, “Creating Five-Alarm Concepts,” earned his coveted “bad ass” designation. Speaker Von Glitschka has all of his slides and notes available for download, so instead of a short Reuben recap, feel free to download it all for yourself.
We’ll get back to you soon with more wisdom from the speakers, but until then, please tell us your favorite takeaways from this year’s How Conference.
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For a couple days last month, Launch was short two Art Directors as Richard Wezensky and Reuben Miller expanded their horizons and got fired up about digital creativity at the annual HOW Conference in Austin, Texas.
Each year, the HOW Conference acts as a reminder of how rapidly interactive advertising is changing. Two years ago, Flash was the big ticket for most agency sites, but now its popularity is fading as strategy and content management become the new heroes. Like the revamped Modernista! and Crispin Porter + Bogusky beta-style sites, there’s been a breakdown of all things ornate and more focus on simplicity, substance and social media. To prepare for this evolution, Richard and Reuben went to two web-focused seminars: “Web Strategy That Works” and “Print to Web Breakthrough”; presented by Mark O’Brien, President of Newfangled.com.
Web strategy that works
In this seminar, O’Brien played up the value of making creative content and strategy, not cool design and visuals, the main focus when creating a great marketing website. If the purpose of a creative website is to “inspire and inform,” then it’s critical to strategize the site with content to bring people in, and develop a stronger point-of-difference from the competition. Along with valuable strategy info, Richard and Reuben were given tips on search engine writing and making the best use of platforms like blogs, newsletters and webinars. Reuben describes this type of search engine optimization strategy as “writing for Google.” The big takeaway—using a content strategy would get people to their site faster, easier and more frequently.
Print to web breakthrough
In the second seminar, O’Brien covered several principles and best practices of web design, and how to cut through the clutter with attention-grabbing work. To successfully shift from a print focus to more of a web focus, designers need to “give up control.” To illustrate the relationship of print versus web design, O’Brien used the analogy of music, where print represents a symphony and web design is jazz. “A symphony is crafted with complete control over all aspects of the piece – with very little flexibility. Jazz often starts with a baseline where other varying components are added more fluidly, giving each piece a different personality as it grows.” Bottom line, you need to be conscious of flexibility when creating for the web.
Tips to ensure search optimization and better viewership:
-Focus on content strategy.
-Write about your niche. People will find you most likely by content, not by name.
-Set up a sort of monthly/weekly/daily deadline for blogs, newsletters and webinars, and get more information on the site more often.
-“Give up control” and make a web plan with flexibility.
-Allow for content management, allow readers to contribute, and use tags.
-Stay informed with web updates and know a little bit about the medium.
-Remember that web developers are your allies. (Help them out by working in layers, providing template options, work on a grid and keep up the dialogue).
-Keep all you assets under your domain. Ex: http://www.yoursitename.com/blog