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In the era of social media, conversations and engagement, content is getting increasingly relevant to B2B marketing. Yes, content is still King … still the igniter of conversation and the grassroots for exchange of ideas. If you are not publishing contextual content for your B2B marketing you are missing the boat.
As our ways and means of interacting through the digital world constantly shift and adapt, what about design, specifically content design? Is that diminishing in importance? Let’s nibble at this idea for a bit. A relatively large portion of people are blocking Flash and banner ads in their browser. Why? Because they see the increasing need to remove the “unnecessary” things so that they can tailor their overall experience to suit their preferences. This sort of empowerment is quite common today. In a world where we have more options as we progress, we have become accustomed to having things done our way. The situation is no different when it comes to content design.
The rise of niche-shattering products and experiences like the iPad, iPhone, Android apps, and mobile browsing (just to name some key examples) has drastically changed the manner in which we consume content. The proliferation of such devices and the increasing preference of using them over traditional means like desktop computers and laptops have rendered design rather irrelevant since these devices present most of the content with minimal design elements.. Others like getting their content via their RSS feed readers or Facebook. I use Readability and the new Reader feature in Safari 5 because I find they suit my needs perfectly. I use them to strip the bells and whistles off the content before I export it to Evernote so that I can read them later at my convenience. But the more we think about it, the more things get clearer. In light of these technological paradigm shifts, design in a traditional sense gets more and more irrelevant.
Producing engaging multimedia content is getting easier and cheaper. One of the greatest aspects of technological innovation lies in addressing a few key needs. The idea of making things easier to use, more portable, more efficient, etc. is the backbone that helped propel technology to the state that it is in today. So, to produce B2B video of decent quality today, for example, all one needs is a video0-capable mobile phone or perhaps a Flip HD camcorder to shoot the raw footage, and built-in movie editing software (iMovie or Windows Movie Maker) so that you can easily edit and produce what you have shot. Whatever combination of gadgets and software you use, I’m sure that it gives you a relatively easy and cheap way to produce video content.
Well, the easiest answer to that question (and probably the closest to being correct) is – “it’s complicated”. The amount of content produced is rising exponentially even in the world of B2B marketing. More competition always begets an arena where survival of the fittest rules at least in one form or the other and in varying degrees. Clarity, usability and contextual relevance are taking the driver’s seat. On this note, I would declare that design is not dead though I won’t go as far as to say that it hasn’t changed somewhat either. It’s definitely evolving in its role and purpose. I believe that those who are still stuck in the good old days would become more and more irrelevant and obsolete as each day passes. Choosing to stick with the old ways for the sake of nostalgia might prove to be our very own Hamartia one day. It’s up to us to decide whether we take heed of evolutionary lessons or fall by the wayside while daydreaming about the salad days.
Hat tip: In a recent episode of Media Hacks podcast series, Mitch Joel with Hugh McGuire et all had an wonderful discussion on how banner ads are becoming more irrelevant and sparked the idea of this post.
Awesome quote Josh! Totally agree.
Dunno whether I'm OOT here or not, but this just reminds me of Steve Job's quote : "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. "
Design could evolve to be "built-into" (as opposed to "slapped-onto") content, in the sense of catering to consumption through various devices. Content that tells a compelling story regardless of medium will triumph eventually. And for that to happen, design could be built intelligently into the content so that appropriately tailored views of well-designed content are served up. Truly, design that way will "cradle" content.
I personally don't think its that complicated actually, its part of the evolutionary process so I'll opt for the "Design is not dead" option. Just a decade or 2 ago everyone does "print" for their marketing campaigns till the internet email marketing came into the picture. And it's time... for the move again... On one side evolution is a cruel thing cos it doesn't wait for anyone but on the other it can only get better each time it makes a big jump.