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Entries tagged "strategy"

 

Communication Is Vital, Context Is Key

By Nathan Moore
August 19, 2010
 

Communication is vital. However, when considering effective communication, context is frequently overlooked. If communication is a process, then context is a key building block of that process.

The video below is one of the most creative and artistic displays of contextual communication I have ever seen. Every scene in the video communicates a single word.

 

If we were to take each of these quick scenes and separate them, they would communicate something entirely different… or nothing at all. Even rearranging the scenes would break the communicative process.

The brilliance of this video is that every scene fits within the context of the scene preceding it. The video begins to communicate words despite the lack of visible text. Even the dialogue is sparse. There are only a few spoken words sprinkled throughout the film to assist in the flow.

Every day, we project and decipher context constantly. Tone, mood, and body language give context to the words we are hearing and saying during conversations. Camera cuts, scores, and editing effects give context to the films we watch. Tempo, pitch, and even instruments give context to the music we hear.

In the same way, context is what makes a design communicate effectively. Differences in color schemes, placement, and even font selections can communicate different concepts. It is imperative that a design communicates the intended message correctly. Context guides this process.

 

 
 

What Is Strategy Really Worth?

By Nathan Moore
July 30, 2010
 

One of the things we practice at Anthology on a daily basis is strategy. Every decision that we make is intentionally executed to help our clients meet their goals. Websites are no longer just websites; they are marketing tools. Designs are no longer just designs; they are a conduit for effective communication.

It never ceases to amaze me how some companies and organizations think that having a website that was created using a “Website Wizard” will suffice for an online presence. Even when these groups hire a web company, many times, they go for the cheapest option and end up with a horrible template-based design with a logo thrown in the header. These solutions, though cheap, lack the thought and strategy that are crucial to a successful website.

When planning, designing, building, and implementing websites we usually ask two questions with every decision we make:

1. Why are we doing this?
2. What is best for the user and the client’s goals?

The answer to the first question, “Why are we doing this?” forces us to make intentional decisions to benefit the project as a whole. Many times, this also cuts out much of the “fat” that tends to weigh down many websites. If there is no point in having it, we remove it.

The second question, “What is best for the user and the client’s goals?” forces us to act in the best interest of the user and the client. This question arises frequently when we discuss how an interface should flow or what elements we can utilize to strategically draw the users’ attention. The result is an extremely usable website that meets the client’s goals.

However, strategy usually comes at a price. Cheaper solutions that are not driven by strategy are not the best fit for a successful web presence. Everything, from the navigation scheme to the design, needs to be done in an intentional manner to optimize impact and to make your website work for you. Otherwise, it is just wasted web space.

 
 

Building Websites with Effective Communication

By Nathan Moore
April 08, 2008
 

“The problem with communication… is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” -George Bernard Shaw

Communication is essentially what Anthology does. Sure, at the surface, we create some really nice designs and we develop functional websites - but websites function as communicative devices - and as I explored in The Anatomy of Great Design Part 01, great design starts with effective communication. So, the goal at the core of all of this is to communicate to your audience.

As simple as this concept may seem, it is overlooked far too often.

Let’s take websites for example. As companies explore building a website, the natural tendency is to make an attempt to impress potential customers. Too many times, the requests are filled with desires to hijack the user experience (not intentionally), create menus that move and sparkle, and bring attention to non-important items. These requests have the same goal as an executive that purchases a flashy sports car just to “show off” when meeting clients. At the end of the day, the car may be impressive, but whether the job is done effectively is what ultimately matters to the client.

When this tendency to impress is extended into web development, it cripples the ability to communicate effectively. Flashy design, gimmicky features, and unnecessary copy cloud the ultimate goals of the site. And, unfortunately, too many times, the web developer has to lay down and submit to the clients requests - and when that happens, the job is not being completed with excellence.

The problem is that when the site is finished and everyone has gone home, the company may be thrilled with the impressive new website, but if it does not communicate effectively and meet the needs of the users, it is ultimately a failure - it is the illusion that communication has been accomplished.

The next time you are building a new site for your company, keep these things in mind:

1. Deny The Desire To Impress - Users will only be impressed the first time they visit your site. After that, the only thing that keeps them coming back is functionality and ease of use. If you can say “that is coooooool,” it probably is doing more harm than good.

2. Develop A Site For Your Client, Not Yourself - Keep the user in mind when determining how you site will look and how it will function. The site may be about you, but it is more about your user.

3. Determine The Key Goals - And do not add anything to the site that does not directly or indirectly encourage the success of these goals. Stay focused.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to be heard in the comments section. And as always, remember to subscribe to the RSS for future posts on design, web development, and online marketing.