Simply chasing cool is a really bad idea; inspired by cool is a great idea. Don’t do it because you research it, do it because you breathe it.
I had a great time at Wordcamp Houston at the Houston Museum of Natural Science!
Today was Wordcamp Houston! It was great to see WordPress cofounder Matt Mullenweg back in his hometown keynoting (full keynote video available here), and I always love spending time with the Houston WordPress community.
The number one thing I took away from Wordcamp Houston is the power of WordPress 3.0. With custom content types and custom taxonomies, you can do a ton with WordPress that previously required a more complex CMS. I’ve spent a lot of time in the content management side of about half a dozen CMS systems, and WordPress is far and away my favorite.
In this post I want to recap the second biggest thing I took away from Wordcamp Houston – Kelsey Ruger’s presentation on the Rebirth of Slick. Essentially – how do you make innovative and cool things online? How do you make your personal brand cool? What does cool even mean? Why design matters.
The full presentation is available on Slideshare and is embedded below: Rebirth of Slick: Why Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company
The three rules:
- Follow your own path
- Be unique – use inspiration to make something new
- Take calculated risks – go where others aren’t
Tips to being cool (online and offline):
- Evoke emotion: “the emotional reaction is all that matters as long as there’s some feeling of communication, it isn’t necessary to be understood”
- It’s not cool to say you’re cool – you can’t be slick by saying you’re slick
- What you believe matters more than what you do
- Find your points of inspiration – Did Michael Jackson create the moonwalk? No – but he made it his own
- You can’t buy or borrow cool – be authentic
- When you spend time chasing cool, you don’t do the things that make you cool
What it comes down to:
Don’t chase cool, be inspired by cool
Market research doesn’t tell you what you should be doing, it only gives you a picture of what has been done in the past
- #1 – Treat design as a process, not as a event
- Start with as many ideas as possible, then start evaluating
- Are your goals too reasonable? i.e. meet customer needs, optimizes resources, change corporate culture
- When looking at inspiration from innovative companies like Apple and Google, don’t ask what DID they do, ask what WOULD they do
- Differentiate – what should you not do?
- Steps: Inspiration > Ideation > Action > Innovation
- Be motivated by passion – If you make all decisions based on numbers and forecasts, you become emotionally detached from the passion (but don’t ignore the books!)
- Don’t lead with efficiency – fix it later
- Don’t outsource your vision, don’t be a slave to today’s trends
- Don’t follow your customers, lead them
- You can get answers by observing, not asking
- Focus on solving human needs instead of technical problems
When writing on the web (for yourself or an organization), be capable of telling a meaningful story. A good story illustrates human emotion.
Stories to tell:
- Who am I
- Values in action
- Why am I here
- I know what you’re thinking
- Do you matter? How great design will make people love your company
- Start with Why?
- The Designful Company
- Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want
- The Story Factor
In short: be your own unique self, figure out what that means (and what it doesn’t), focus your content and do what other people aren’t doing. REALLY inspiring!
Huge thanks to all of the Wordcamp Houston speakers and volunteers! It was a great event and I can’t wait for next year!