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Raising twins is like user experience design

Blending personal with marketing is something I have done for years, some would say it’s a character flaw as I’m constantly looking at how marketing impacts and influences my life, but I can’t help it, it’s in my blood I guess. I recently had twin girls, Isabelle & Olivia, and although I had planned extensively for them, cribs, stroller, dresser, rockers, play yard, etc. etc. it wasn’t until recently that I started getting into buying them clothes or decorating their room (note “room” not “nursery” – a slight distinction, but an important one). When I was thinking about how to dress them, what colours to use, theme of room, etc. I kept vacillating and realized that I had no idea who they were or what they might like as individuals. They aren’t carbon copies, they are distinct and unique human beings – how could I design something for them or try and force-fit a ’style’ onto them without having met them? What if I was wrong? (and it’s not cheap being wrong…)

Now some may say I over-analysed and what’s wrong with picking out a nursery theme for them in advance and letting them deal with it? You don’t get choices when you are a baby. Well… because 4-months in I see their distinct personalities coming out and they are quite different. Olivia lights up when she sees girly dresses and Isabelle goes nuts for the colour red for example. I’m getting to know them now & have a good sense of who they are and how I can incorporate their differing personalities into their wardrobe, room, and toys. 

I started from a simple premise: they needed to feel comfortable and secure. Everything else is just window dressing. So I knew I wanted them to feel at peace in their room instead of being overwhelmed with bright colours, they needed a place to sleep & a place to put their clothes, but that was as far as I got. We knew we needed to paint regardless of the choice, it was a very dark colour initially, and Kevin suggested (and painted) two colours – sky blue & light yellow sunshine for trim. Very uplifting and calming colours and a warm space for them to spend time in. That worked. 

So that’s where we ended up – a painted room we wanted to spend time in. Pretty good starting point – in marketing terms, I was in the door & willing to spend some time browsing around. The foundation was set experientially. Of course it’s not *my* room, it’s theirs so all I did was added two dark wood 3-in-1 cribs that could be painted if the girls wanted to individualize their beds down the road, an antique white dresser that can also be painted if they want, a neutral rug, a funky lamp, and some wall stickers. That was it. No other “stuff”. No wall art, no “princess” or “jungle” pre-packaged theme, no elaborate crib bedding sets, just a relatively plain room that felt good for wee ones. Now that I see who they are I’m starting to refine, change, or add to their space to make it their own.

Why did I feel like I needed to rush and get all this done & design the perfect ‘experience’ for them without any context outside of what *I* (Brand “Mommy”) thought they’d like? Of course I built the foundation, but I left the door open (and mandatory) for iterations, changes, and growth. I let them show me who they were. I design for them, not for me. I facilitate and enable their personalities & mediate the differences, not dictate my taste. 

I’m designing their “user” experience in the world — and funny enough, the same principles about getting to know them apply if you are a brand too.

[photo credit: shashchatter via Flickr]

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Upcoming event: Search Engine Strategies Toronto

This June 8 & 9th the Search Engine Strategies conference will return to Toronto. I had the pleasure of speaking at the event in 2007 and as the landscape continues to evolve, this year looks to have some great sessions on “what’s next” in search, along with the tried and true sessions about SEO & SEM. This year I’m covering SES right here on (3i). I hope to impart some of the goodness I’ll be learning over the two-days and if you have any particular sessions you’d like me to recap, let me know in the comments!

In addition to the keynote by the excellent Miss Rogue, Tara Hunt, author of The Whuffie Factor, the first day has some fantastic sessions, including:

 

  • Is PageRank Broken? The Future of Search
  • Universal and Blended Search: Comprehensive Visibility Challenges
  • Optimizing for Video Search: Virgin Territory?
  • SEO Then & Now: What’s the Same? What’s New? [I'll be featuring an interview with one of the panelists, Anne Kennedy, in the coming weeks on (3i). ]

 

Day 2 again features some terrific sessions in addition to the keynote by Emanuel Rosen, author of The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited:

 

  • Follow the Carrot: Cool Mobile Apps
  • Information Architecture, Site Performance Tuning and SEO
  • Social Media: Do Big Companies Get It?
  • How to Speak Geek: Working Collaboratively With Your IT Department to Get Things Done

 

If you are at the conference make sure to find me to say hi, or if you aren’t attending, follow along here and leave me a comment with your perspective on the hot issues being discussed!

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