Summer is around the corner! WOO HOO!
Welcome to another edition of NutsPR Spotlight!
I am very excited to introduce to you this month’s guest on NutsPR Spotlight: Andy Crestodina.
Many years ago, when I first heard Gini Dietrich talk about this book Content Chemistry, I was intrigued. So I ordered it, started reading it, and my mind was blown away.
I knew from the first moment I opened the book that I needed to learn more about the author.
So, I connected with him on all possible social channels, subscribed to his newsletter, read everything I could find about him.
Andy Crestodina is one of the smartest people I have ever had the honor and pleasure to meet (through social media for now).
Andy is the Co-founder and Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also a speaker, author and host of the Content Matters podcast.
He was kind enough to share a bit of his wisdom with us.
Thank you, Andy. It’s an honor to have you on NutsPR.
I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Prepare for your minds to be blown away.
Ladies and gents I am honored to introduce to you: Andy Crestodina!
When did you know web design was what you wanted to do?
It was pretty early. In 1998 I was spending my nights and weekends making interactive comic books with a friend and loving every minute of it. They were animated, they had sound effects, they gave the reader choices that let them guide the story.
What I really loved about these projects was the opportunity to combine design and technology, art and science.
Those comics never made any money (of course) but within a year, I found another way to fuel that passion and use both halves of my brain at the same time.
In January of 2000, with the start of the new millennium, I started building websites.
How does teaching help you learn? How do you like to learn?
Teaching is one of the fastest ways to learn. Especially if it involves anything like public speaking.
There are at least two reasons:
- To teach something well, you need to learn it deeply. You need to understand the principles behind it. The details. The applications. The exceptions.
- Fear of public failure is powerful. The date of the presentation provides the urgency. The risk of embarrassing yourself provides the motivation.
If you want to learn something, offer to teach it to a small group of people next week!
So I try not to ever miss a chance to teach.
For years, I volunteered for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, where I gave walking tours to tourists. It was a wonderful experience. I learned so much.
These days, I teach at conferences, big and small. The size of the audience isn’t important. All that matters is that everyone learns.
What piece of advice do you have for anyone heading into web design?
This business is perfect for people who combine three attributes:
If you love approaching challenges, especially visual and communication challenges, from new angles, web design is for you. There are always new opportunities to try new approaches, new imagery, new messages.
If you love problem solving and you like technical details, web design is for you. There are a million little details and a ton of technology involved.
- Service Ethic
If you love helping people, web design is for you. This business is about the client and the clients’ visitors. The former you’ll meet in person. The later you’ll meet through data. In the end, you are only successful if you help them both.
It’s also a perfect career for lifelong learners and people who love to teach.
Every project involves a lot of education for the client. Even the most experienced clients have only been part of a handful of web design projects.
Here’s a quick, final warning: Don’t go into web design if you’re primarily motivated by money. It’s not very lucrative. The barrier to entry is basically zero. Anyone with a phone, a laptop and a few WordPress skills can set themselves up as a competitor!
You see a lot of bad work and bad practice.
What would you like to change in the web design industry and think it can be accomplished this year?
The industry isn’t results-driven enough. There is too much opinion involved.
Designers know the client will only approve a design if they like it. But that emotion isn’t based on enough experience or data.
So the results of most web design projects are compromised by the personal preferences of the people involved.
When I meet with people, I promise them I will never express a personal opinion.
To do so would be bad for their project. Every recommendation I make is based on evidence, data, and experience. When I do express an opinion, I frame it as a hypothesis and suggest that we test.
Demand is (or isn’t) generated based on a series of outcomes. Each step leads to the next in order. It can be designed, tested, and optimized.
My hope for the future of the industry is more empathy for visitors, but based on evidence and Analytics.
I call this “data-driven empathy” and without it, we risk focusing on ourselves, not our visitors, readers, and future customers.
…that’s not going to happen this year, but we’re doing our best. 🙂
What’s next for Andy Crestodina?
Lots of events!
I’m speaking at a lot of conferences this year.
But I’m also going to find time to update the book.
Content Chemistry is in it’s fourth edition, but it’s due for another update.
But I won’t be staying late at the office this year.
I have a one year old and I’m always sure to get home for playtime before he goes to bed…
Want to know more about Andy?