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“The YES man” vs saying “NO”

09/03/2011 Leave a comment

There is no designer on earth that can tell me he / she automatically does not become a “YES” person. At the very basic level within business, whatever you do is about pleasing the client and for the most part it’s ok because your client tends to relax around you knowing that they can share their ideas without too much of a challenge from you the designer.

But there will arise an occasion where you have to move away from being the client pleaser to being the person that says NO. At this point the client is no longer your friend and what you have to do is almost be weary of every step you take. It is never as simple as just saying NO.

It sometimes proves to be a real headache as in most cases, Designers are almost always in a subordinate role and whether you are the biggest corporate or the little man on the side-walk – the general rule in business is that the client is always right. It’s clear to me from working in different industries that being able to gently tell a client NO, is almost an art form. You don’t want to lose your client!

The other important note is that not all clients are deaf to advice, but if that one instance of “NO” is not handled well it could lead to your client having this negative perception about you and we all know perception becomes reality with people. It should also be made clear that sometimes your “NO” is actually an attempt at understanding the “WHY” from a client. What I sometimes forget as a designer is that clients are paying and imagine if it were myself paying for a service and the company tells me NO! That would not be a great feeling!

We should also consider such things as project status, what I mean to say is that it’s a very different situation if you are telling the client “No” when they are still briefing you in or at the early stages of the project to if the project was half way through and a problem arose. If you really think about it at the early stages, you could actually dish out the bullshit to tell the client no and they would buy it. If however you have started the project it would make more sense to be honest and ensure you deliver all the facts to the client.

With all of this “NO” talk there are simple guides that we could follow to help the client absorb what you are saying:

1. Say NO, but always offer an alternative – it makes you look useless as a designer if you say NO and then just leave your client hanging.
2. Say NO, but say it nicely – remember perception could kill your relationship with the client, so listen to the conversation and ensure that what you are saying cannot be perceived as you have disregard for the client.
3. Say NO, but still assure the client of your skill – This will help if you are going to work with this client in the future. It’s almost an assurance that you as a designer are good at what you do, however on this project the circumstances were against you.
4. Say NO, but show the client you are thinking about the end result – You want your client to know that you have their best interest in mind with the choices you make as a designer. I’m hoping clients would be more accepting of  a “NO” if they are aware that you are looking out for their best interest.
5. Say NO, directly and clearly –  Don’t beat around the bush, you want to ensure that everyone is on the same page, thus allowing to customer to do what they need to and still have time to do so.

Personally, saying “NO” is never easy and it’s even more difficult to remove the stigma of – you are just a designer that says “NO” for everything –  from your client’s mind. Whatever you do just be tactful.

Microsoft and Mobile – KIN failure

09/07/2010 1 comment

Microsoft Windows Mobile

Microsoft Windows Mobile

No doubt you would have heard that Microsoft’s attempt at Mobile Phone manufacturer failed. They have officially stopped the KIN mobile phone line. The question is WHY?

The truth of the real world is that no one can be the best at everything, that’s just a general rules that has been proven time and time again. Companies and people who believe they are the best at everything are just simply fooling themselves. That being said, in the business world companies need to adapt to actually be a challenge to competitors. This adaption sometimes leads to venturing into new markets. We have all become to familar with this concept as it clearly seen in almost everything Google has done. Search Engine, Maps, GPS, Travel, TV, Mobile and the list continues.

The problem Microsoft has is that whenever it takes to venture out into new markets, instead of starting on a clean slate – they use everything they have build up over the year to define the outcome of the new product.

Take windows mobile 5 right up to 6.5, it was built on windows – so instead of realizing that the mobile OS is going to mobile phones, they just basically took a copy of windows, added some icons in make a task bar and drop down menu and shipped it out as an OS for a mobile phone.

Now don’t get me wrong, the concept of WinMo was great and it has all the possibilities of being an awesome business orientated mobile phone OS but it lacks what Apple and Google have done from a user experience point of view.

Microsoft then put there hand to creating the Kin, but at a time when people are more aware of iPhones and Android based devices. That’s the biggest mistake – marketing 1 0 1 – don’t put your crappy product out there when there are better cheaper mobiles that do and offer more than yours.

Come on guys – what makes the KIN line better than a Motorola running Android? I mean Nokia’s dying breed of smartphones with Symbian is still a far better choice than the KIN.

Now the timing of all this is crucial, Microsoft are hoping to come back in the market with Window Mobile 7 or as they call it Windows Phone 7. This is really where they should have started. Before making a crappy product make something you’re actually good at – software.

Some genius at Microsoft forgot this.

I still believe Microsoft has an opportunity to come back provided they get Windows Mobile 7, right the first time. If they screw this up there is no way they can be considered a serious competitor to Android, iOS, Symbia, Maemo, MeeGo and BlackBerry.

They should are look at targeting the right audience – the KIN was aimed at the social savvy younger audience, again some genius at Microsoft should have done more research about what market would be interested in a Microsoft mobile device. That research would have shown them that the market is the business orientated person. That’s who you target Microsoft not the socially savvy, networked younger generation – We’re too clever for your lame concept of what type of mobile we would want.

In all fairness, I think Microsoft is very good at creating awesome software for PC’s I think they have a good model for business orientated mobile devices. Their shortcoming is a failure capitalize on the functionality with good user experience – a PC is not a mobile device. A windows user does not expect a PC experience on a mobile phone.

Steve Ballmer, you should fire your head of user experience for mobile and the marketing person that convinced you that selling to a younger socially savvy audience was the way to go.

PS – If you going to do something – DO IT RIGHT!

Cheers
EJC

HTML5

21/05/2010 Leave a comment

HTML5 – The explanation

With the natural progression of the web language from HTML 1 to current 4.01, the logical next step would be HTML5, and there’s more to it than just a name change.

The main idea or focus of HTML5 is to lessen the need for plugins to display rich internet applications. Plugins would refer to such apps as Adobe’s Flash Player, Microsoft’s Silverlight and Sun Micro systems JavaFX.

You all would be familiar with at least 1 or 2 of these names, seeing that the majority of Internet video is played of a Flash player.

HTML5 is still just in early stages, there are working stable modules and I am certain that they will start being used more and more, Adobe are already looking at implementing the necessary changes to allow users to generate webpage’s in HTML5.

The deeper you look in to HTML5 the more you start to see where it is all going. Semantic web often tagged Web 3.0 is leading toward making the web smarter. The idea that a parrot repeats what a human says but does not understand it is where we are with the internet at the moment. We tell the web what to do and it does it but does not understand why we are giving that instruction.

The semantic web changes that into helping our computers understand what we are doing. So the way a web page is coded will be designed at making the web page “computer friendly”.

In turn this will aid us as our computers offer a better array of features. When we search, the results would be better, when we interact the experience would be richer and so on goes.

Will HTML5 get rid of Adobe Flash, Silverlight and Java – Yes and No. Yes in the long term HTML5 will develop and become more widely used. As for now – Adobe Flash is here to stay. Silverlight never took off and Java runs so quietly in background that you never even know it’s there.

The prep work however needs to start now – start incorporating the standard into how we currently work on web and when the wave hits, all we need to do is take out our surf boards and ride the wave…

Learn how to use failure to suceed

28/09/2009 Leave a comment

Failure as I mentioned before is useful if harnessed properly, and yet so often it is frowned upon without even learning anything from it.

I want to focus on this subject of failure simply because if you can understand this point correctly you would have grown in your maturity and knowledge of the Digital Industry like you can only imagine.

Why? – Why do I say that? Because the person who does not fail at some point is the one who made no effort.

Lets be real about it though, no one likes to fail it is a terrible feeling and each of us whether we acknowledge it or not has failed at some time or the other. Failure extends further than your work environment, I use myself as an example of this, I often research new developments in Technology and in particular Web Technology and every so often I will come across something that absolutely amazes me.

With my amazement comes the sense of “How”, how does it work and can I re-create it and I assure you that I fail at least 5 – 10 times in my effort to understand and re-create. Yet it doesn’t stop there, I keep going and keep going until I am completely frustrated with myself and realise I need a break before I try again. After the break I get right back at it and keep going, and 90% of the time I get it.

But there is also worldly failure, and I know how that feels as well, I have been trying to get my Drivers License for the past 5 years and having failed my test 3 times, you would think I would have just bought the License already. I refuse to do the wrong thing to obtain it. Character and virtues creates the legend of the person you are.

The monumental glaring point about failure is that you learn patience and perseverance, you know the saying “You don’t always get what you want” strangely enough that is not the complete version of the saying, it actually goes “You don’t always get what you want, but if you TRY sometimes, you get what you need” – wise words.

Here’s how I see it and hopefully you can use this in your life,

  1. Accept it – Acknowledging that you can fail is the start, if you cannot do this you cannot use failure to become a success.
  2. Learn from it – The only time failure is useless is when you do not learn from it. So when you do fail, stop and think about the situation, ask yourself what is it that I can learn from this? (I have learnt 3 things that I do incorrectly when I drive)
  3. Stand Tall – We get so worked up about failing because we think our friends and colleges are going to think the worst of us, yet in my experience it is not the one who fails that people look down on – NO – it is the one who fails and cannot handle the failure. No one looks down on the person who is seeking and trying to reach greatness.
  4. Think Quick – So often we see a failure and just leave it there, without doing anything about it. Broadcasting has taught me that if your project is failing, all you have to do is look at what is not working and adjust it. This simple idea works so well if you can just apply it.
  5. Don’t Give Up – Life’s greatest lesson is this – Persevere, Persevere, Persevere, don’t just quit because it is not going your way, keep at it and learn.
  6. Apply It – Don’t be afraid of failing, this kind of fear will rob you of any hope of success.
  7. Bigger Picture – Part of the Primedia Broadcasting Formula for success is to not be bigger picture blind. Simply put, in the case of failure be sure you understand the bigger picture, learn how fail smartly. (If you have a project due tomorrow, don’t be fancy – do it by the book. If you are working well in advance, then why not play around and give yourself room to fail, and the more you fail the more you learn.)
  8. Boldness – When you finally get it to work after all that failing and perseverance, be bold and confident about what you have just succeeded at, and use that to boost your morale for the next round of failing.

Well, that’s the pearls of wisdom for today, oh and wisdom is “APPLIED KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING” The only way this will work is if you apply it. 

Regards
EJC

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