Saturday, March 31, 2007

Many will enter, few will win

Spring has arrived, and with it the first signs of life from the design community's winter slumber: the design competitions.

BSCO staff noticed that this spring, the trend in design competition deadlines seems to be to extend the deadline. That might be a good sign, that the design community is busy with work and too busy to pay attention to competition deadlines, or too frugal to pay for entry fees.

Exactly what is a design competition anyway? With our tongues firmly planted in our cheek, BSCOdm has these observations and predictions:

Design competitions come in two flavors: exploitative and ego-boosting. Or maybe that's the same flavor.
  • It's to feed your ego: C'mon, you know that deep down inside, it's true.
  • Competitions exploit the designer: WIRED magazine and Beefeater are looking for free creative development, with a token prize for the winner.
The more common design competition requests entries (for a fee) to be submitted to a panel of judges (with or without relevance to the work) who evaluate the entries (based on a set of criteria known only to them at the time). Context, anyone?
  • Again, it feeds your ego: When was the last time you gained a client from being published in an annual?
  • A design competition isn't to compete, it's a fund raiser: Without a doubt, competitions are a revenue stream. And sell magazines. Admit it, how many articles do you actually read? But it's fun to look at all those pictures, isn't it?
  • It's a way to archive the best work in the industry: At the AIGA, work submitted is entered into the Design Archives, to chronicle the best in design. That is, the best in design that was submitted (and accepted) into the competition.
  • It benefits the designer: We predict that the AIGA competition annual (a benefit of AIGA membership), currently sized at approximately 5 x 6 inches, will continue to shrink until it is the size of a matchbook.
  • These archives support R&D: That's right, we mean rip off & duplicate. If the pictures are big enough.
  • We predict: Next year, all of the competitions will simply publish work from previous years. Nobody will notice.
We confess, BSCO is guilty at times of indulging in these endeavors. Our favorites are Print, HOW, LogoLounge, and Rockport Publishing.

Our final prediction: Many will enter, few will win. You're all winners in our book.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Designer as road warrior

No, this isn't about Mad Max. It's about your smart phone.

Pending the release of the iPhone from Apple, we'll all have to continue to use what seems to be a designer's favorite, the Treo from Palm.

If you travel by car, I want to recommend the Pro Clip.

It really is as simple as the manufacturer claims to install. The instructions for the clip I ordered came shown with photos from my vehicle, not generic photos. It's rare to find a manufacturer with such attention to the user experience in installation.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Leading vs. managing

Does it seem like you are more concerned about a project than your client is? Do you often deal with ambiguity? Who’s in charge? Do your clients have any idea of how they will work with your firm?

There are two mantras you should recite every morning before starting your day:
1. I will manage my client’s expectations
2. I will lead my clients

Managing a client’s expectations starts with a great relationship, where they value your input and respect your recommendations. Understanding the relationship informs how you will lead. These are mantras that declare your intent to focus on their needs and expectations in a proactive manner, and make the experience of working with your firm easy.

It’s two-sided: The client has needs and expectations, the design firm has (or should have) workflow procedures. Your procedures will have anticipated their expectations, and the client will make it clear if those will work for them. Of course it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but it all starts with the relationship that you have built with the client.

Anticipating deadlines, respecting timelines and awareness of your client’s needs will allow you to manage your time and lead your clients. This thinking can be applied to everything from business development to project management. It allows you to control the relationship and the workflow, rather than letting it control you. It allows you to lead your clients, and guide them – not let them pull you along.

My recommendation? Develop your leadership skills. Your clients will notice. The rest will follow.

(unsummarized version at Business of Design Online)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Is it an Apple or an Onion?

Touting the latest product launch from Apple, this article is worthy of considerable attention:
announcing iLaunch.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What are you looking for?

What exactly are the readers of this blog looking for?

3.51%garmin vs tomtom
3.51%how to update map on nuvi 350
3.51%garmin travel assistant turn arrow
3.51%leading from the middle book picture
3.51%is the nuvi 350 software update and macintosh
1.75%nuvi 350 map update
1.75%limited too teenager fashions of 07
1.75%garmin vs. tomtom
1.75%xpress apostrophe problem
1.75%work why change is good

Clearly, more people are looking for technical info about their personal travel assistants than about opinions about design and design relevance. This is a short list of searches, relevant to today, but insightful.

Statistics are an amazing thing. It's a wonder that designers don't make better use of them as they design their client's and their own web sites.

Perhaps, in the end, or right now, you're looking for the meaning of life. There's a web site for that too...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Purpose and Mastering Monday

In our ego-centric design culture, it's a book like Mastering Monday: A Guide to Integrating Faith and Work that keeps things in perspective.

John Beckett's well-written sequel to Loving Monday repeats some of the stories and anecdotes from the original, but offers many examples of applying Biblical values and principles to one's work -- whether one is the owner of a business or an employee.

I finally finished the book, (which is a very quick read). It's theory and application, with some very specific exercises and examples of making your faith alive in your business or work, and aligning yourself with God's purpose for you.

There is a bigger picture to your work life. Do you see it?