If you haven’t heard of them before, Campaign Monitor is an amazing email company based out of Australia. Their service is one of the best around and their commitment to improving the dark art of email marketing is awesome. They have a great blog and some fantastic resources for designers. I send all of my emails through Campaign Monitor, and honestly couldn’t be happier with their tools.
So, here’s the skinny: Three people will win the Campaign Monitor prize package, which consists of the following:
10,000 free credits to use with their service.
A gorgeous Campaign Monitor t-shirt to show off to your friends.
A set of Campaign Monitor notebooks to plan your next great email design.
All you need to do is sign up for my email newsletter between now and January 15th to be entered to win. A few days after the book is launched, I’ll randomly pick three winners from my email list and get in touch with them about claiming their prizes. It’s that simple.
If you haven’t already, you should check out Desk, a great new writing app designed and developed by John Saddington. While it doesn’t have Statamic support (wink, wink), it’s a fantastic tool for bloggers. Building on the popular distraction-free writing interface, Desk takes it further by adding in preview and publishing tools for a variety of platforms.
Along with the app, John is busy building a community for writers of every ilk. He’s started an online meeting place for people to discuss everything about the writing process as well as an email newsletter. I recently had the opportunity lend a hand redesigning the newsletter to better reflect the quality of the app itself.
My wife is, for all intents and purposes, internet illiterate.
Until recently, her knowledge of the internet didn’t extend far beyond Facebook, Amazon, and Googling recipes. Don’t get me wrong, she’s way smarter than I am, but she is… less than technically savvy. So I was surprised when she brought up the idea of starting a blog. This is a person that has absolutely zero experience with publishing content online. And she wanted to blog. Which is awesome.
Five minutes after hearing her idea, I procured a domain name, snagged a Twitter account, and set up WordPress. After some quick changes to the stock Twenty Fourteen theme, the Basic Mom Blog was born.
Teaching Someone to Blog
All that setup was fine, but a blog isn’t a blog until someone posts. I showed my wife how to log in and where to post, but we immediately ran into a few challenges. Those challenges all boiled down to experience, expectations, and communication. Here’s my experience with blogging:
I have an idea for a post.
I log into my CMS, write said post, and upload whatever pictures I want to use.
I hit publish.
I’ve been doing this for awhile. I naively expected my wife to be able to jump right in and do exactly what I normally do. Here’s what actually goes into blogging, from the standpoint of someone less experienced:
Have an idea for a post.
Log into WordPress. Navigate to the new post page.
Fill out a title, write the post.
Upload pictures for post. Wait, how do you upload a picture? Oh, I mean add media.
Um, what do all these settings do after it’s uploaded?
Insert image in post. That doesn’t look right. It needs to be cropped. Edit photo in WP. This interface sucks.
Preview post. Edit photo. Preview post. Edit photo.
Add categories and tags.
I quickly found myself frustrated trying to walk her through the steps. Less because of her lack of experience and more due to my inability to communicate clearly since it’s been years since I was in her position. We finally got that first post up (and the second, third, and even a parody video). Since then, she’s been killing it. Fewer questions, more confident about getting things done in WordPress. It’s been amazing to watch.
But it really got me thinking about some of the assumptions I make when it comes to technology, the internet, and the expectations we all make as designers.
At what point do the assumptions we make as designers work against the users whose lives we’re supposed to be improving?
Living so much of my life online, I take a lot for granted. Working in email, with some of the brightest minds in the business, I likely take even more for granted. I make assumptions about what people already know, or wrongly equate my experiences with everyone else’s. This is dangerous ground, since most of my work involves educating others about email design.
I can’t expect everyone to know what I know. I can’t expect everyone to understand the basics of web or email design. I can’t expect my wife to know the ins-and-outs of WordPress on day one.
I think it’s important for me, and most people, to try to remove their experiences and expectations from the equation–especially when it comes to teaching others. Try to remember what it was like learning things for the first time, not knowing HTML from a BLT. Look at things from the eyes of a newbie and teach appropriately.