I love technology. I have been working with and around technology my whole life. My parents are academics in engineering so as a child I played in the white dots on the floor that were the result of punch cards. I am dating myself because that was back in the day when computers were the size of rooms and engineers used punch cards to understand inputs and outputs.
These days, there is a very different approach to using technology, or well, for some us it is different. I think there are older notions still present in industry. The idea that technology for “technology sake” is still part of our culture. I still see development teams building applications in a vacuum. I still see CEOs guiding technology projects with the “if we build it, they will come” notion.
I recently helped a non-profit group renovate their web presence. It was such a refreshing pleasure. I did not know that I was going to give them web help when I first attended a volunteer event. I just wanted to help contribute to clean water for the city. I was able to first get to know the key members of the group. I then attended some volunteer events and observed how they operated. At that point, it became obvious to me that I could help them. It was good timing, that they had a booth at a neighborhood festival which allowed me to collect some consumer data. All these experiences painted a culturally driven need-based picture of this organization. This made it clear to me how to design the website to serve their goals. Once I had the “people stuff”, I was basically able to build the site from scratch and show them a Phase I design in just a couple of days. It is only that fast and relevant if you as a designer know all the “people stuff” first. All the human need and messaging is the point of a website that represents an organization. The technology is just the vehicle to show the emotional aspects of human goals and needs. The people are first. I use the “if I understand the users, they will come to the technology I design” approach. When technology serves that role, then it is effective and that is fun!