Useful, usable, delightful

“Useful, usable, delightful” are three words that inspire every project. Great article with James Hilton, Chief creative officer, AKQA in this Guardian article about design.

I would add – classical designs aspire to be timeless for decades, whereas websites design aspires, at best, to stand for a few months. That’s where modern digital design has it’s challenges from evolving the methods.

Narrative control

We like to believe that simple is smart, especially when trying to communicate complex issues, so why then does Obama need a revision on his political narrative after such an impressive campaign to get into office. His strong, clear narrative (hope and change) helped the president connect with voters and explain the journey. The lack of one now invites opponents to craft a less flattering portrayal. The NYT comments on President Obama’s first year in office through the lens of controlling a clear story.

“You’ve got to have a clear, easy to understand story,” said Mark McKinnon, an image-maker for George W. Bush’s two presidential campaigns but a professed admirer of Mr. Obama. “Obama’s story is getting very complicated and confusing for voters. Obama is trying to do it all and appease too many constituencies. Voters like him and think he’s smart. But they’re not exactly clear whose side he’s fighting on.”

Value and scarcity thoughts

1. The connection between value and scarcity is something we all know. Gold is precious because there is not much of it to go around, not because you can use it to build skyscrapers. The psychologists reasoned that this link has become deep-wired into our neurons, so that we unconsciously call on it—and its inverse—for life decisions.

2. Is it human tendency to make negative conclusions solely because we are unable to fulfill our desires? Maybe we should try to a little harder as it is never too late. In the case of a friend, the belief that good men are vanishing has resulted in refusal to see any other guy who is actually standing right next to her. More often than not, the solutions to our problems are so obvious that we overlook them.

3. Most people think of prejudice as simple animosity. But psychologists are coming to see this common human trait as far more complex than that. Indeed, it appears from a growing body of research that our emotional reactions to “others” are quite nuanced. We may pity people who are powerless but benign—the elderly, for example—yet we don’t despise them. And we may respect but dislike people who are powerful but not particularly warm–the very rich, for instance. It appears that we save our most extreme emotional assessment—pure contempt—for the doubly cursed: those who we perceive as not only cold but incompetent. At the extreme, we view these extreme rejects—addicts, bums, modern-day lepers—as barely human.

4. I think most folks don’t quite get that courtship/mating problems are actually marketing problems. If you look at marketing you will see that ‘cold mailing’ results in about a 0.5%-1% return while a warm campaign can give more like 2%. A person selling themselves to others is not at all different. What she doesn’t understand is that she may have to converse with 100 guys before she hits a real prospect. Perhaps her problem is the same as most start-up business owners who think that 10% of folks who see their product will buy it! You have to figure out your target. You have to look in the right places to increase your chances and then accept that it’s going to take longer than you think, maybe 10x longer. Accept that.