In the Face of Change, One Constant
We are always researching and learning to stay current with trends in our field. But lately there has been a decided push to dive deeper into some of the new technologies out there in order to help our clients improve their communications and sharpen our design thinking and development.
But "new" is a practically a misnomer these days. There's hardly anything new about technology when the rapid pace of development, adoption, and discard means today's hot new digi-thing will be obsolete next month. It makes working and playing in the space where invention overlaps communication challenging. How do you select which technologies will allow for innovative ways of marketing and outreach without negating proven and time-tested methods?
When weighing the value of incorporating a new technology into your communications workflow against the disruption that might occur, it's important to ask yourself these questions:
- Will this new technology allow my customers to gain better access to the information that I want to share with them?
- Will this new technology reduce the number of steps it takes for me to make contact with my customers?
- Will it make my customers' experience with my organization better or elevate their perception of my organization in their mind?
- Will this new technology help me reach more and better qualified customers in a way that is meaningful?
Notice that your customer is at the heart of all these questions — a persistent denominator. Yes, the new stuff is fun to look at or play with. Yes, it seems like everyone is doing it. But if the new is going to adversely impact your customer's experience with you, or have zero impact at all, then it's not worth the resources it will take to implement it.
We are frequently asked about the necessity of retrofitting a website to be more readily accessible by (or responsive in) mobile devices. While designing websites for mobile first is the way things are going, it doesn't mean that you need to jump on that high-speed bullet train just yet. Review your website analytics to see how many of your site's visitors are actually coming to you via mobile devices. You may learn that indeed a large percentage are accessing your site via a tablet. Or you might be surprised to see that the majority of your visitors are coming by way of their desktop or laptop. It will all depend on your audience, your offering, and the nature of your industry whether redesigning to a responsive or specifically mobile website is right for you right now.
Another area replete with new technologies is digital publishing, taking content beyond standard PDF faire into an interactive, multi-sensory reading experience. It is a relatively new and exciting field, and we've seen great examples of how publications designed with interactive features can enhance comprehension of the subject matter. But are digital publications better than PDF? That depends. Recently we grappled with making just this decision, and because of the rapid evolution of this technology, it took a good bit of research and experimentation to arrive at a recommendation. The question we kept returning to was: "Will the digital publication format make it a better experience for the reader?" We encourage you to also keep this question at the center of your deliberations when faced with the seemingly endless opportunities to improve your communications.
On a related note, you might be interested in "Not Out, Through: The Best Way to Deal With the Onslaught of Technology" on Good.is. This post finely articulates our philosophy about the role of technology in our work and in our lives.