2014: The Media are the Message

2014: The Media are the Message

Communication theory rock star Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” half a century ago. A simple translation of McLuhan’s pronouncement is that content, its substance and interpretation, is dependant on its method of delivery. It would be hard to overstate how much communications have changed since the 1960s; but it’s still true, and maybe even clearer now, that communications are shaped by their media. What has probably changed the most is that very few messages are now delivered on a single medium.

It’s more accurate today to say “the media are the message.”

If we want to predict what the message will look like in 2014, the technologies delivering it are a good place to look for clues.

The buzz word in web design as we begin 2014 is “Flat.” An early influence on the trend toward flat design was Microsoft’s Metro design language. Metro features the solid-colored tiles and flat iconography now ubiquitous in Microsoft products from the Windows Phone to the Xbox. Metro was formally introduced with Windows Phone 7 in 2010. The big, easy-to-click tiles and uncluttered design was great for small touch screens, and the interface was well-received. Reviews of the Metro-flavored Windows 8 were mixed among desktop and laptop users in 2012, but the OS design shift was a signal that Microsoft was focusing more on mobile devices.

Windows 8

It’s a safe bet that 2014 will see more of the flat design that Metro helped launch in everything from WordPress themes to print design. Many of Metro’s design decisions were guided by the strengths and limitations of the mobile interface, and mobile usage continues to increase.

What are some characteristics of mobile devices that may influence design this year?

High Pixel Density

While high resolution displays aren’t limited to tablets and smartphones, the race for ever-higher pixel density began on those devices, and they continue to be where innovation first appears. Over the last couple years, “retina-ready” has gained traction in the language of web designers. The methods for retina-readying raster graphics (non-scaling graphics in which the value of each pixel is defined like a photo for example) involve detecting pixel density and loading separate images based on the user’s device.

A response to higher pixel density has been a move away from raster images toward icon fonts and scalable vector graphics (SVG). Both icon fonts and SVGs scale smoothly to any size, at any resolution, without losing clarity, so only one version is needed for all devices. Both are limited, though, with regard to color variation. Icon fonts and SVGs are great for abstract, stylized images with a limited color palette (in the case of icon fonts, a single color), but don’t work for photos or images with shading.

For example, this would be a good candidate for SVG or an icon font:
Blue Zoo Logo

But not this:
Lion photo

Sometimes there’s no substitute for a photographic image in a design. I’m not suggesting that jpegs are endangered, but for some design trends this may be lights out.

Say goodbye to:

  • Big background images
  • Home page image sliders
  • Raster icons

Touch Interface

Another venerated web design element that could change is the mouseover. The mouseover has been fundamental to the way people interact with online media and, like raster images, there will always be a place for it. But some of the mouseover functions are problematic on mobile devices as they have no mouseover equivalent.

Say goodbye to:

  • drop-down menus
  • image rollovers
  • extra information revealed on mouseover

Small Screens

Charles Eames said, “Design depends largely on constraints.” This must be a golden age for web design, as mobile offers plenty of constraints, the most obvious being the smaller screen size. Web designers must now consider the necessity, as well as the placement, of every element. While an unnecessary bell or whistle might be harmless on a 20 inch screen, on a handheld device, it’s not what the user is looking for and likely an annoyance.

There are responsive design techniques to minimize the effect on mobile compared to a larger screen. But I think the trend, already well underway, toward clean minimalism will get a boost in 2014 as more designers design for mobile first.

Say goodbye to:

  • Clutter

Who really knows what the year ahead will bring? While prediction is not our profession, mobile is clearly the hot focus for design. If your site is sporting that retro 2009 look, you may be missing more than trends and actually losing visitors and sales.

Quit Monkeying Around! Join the Zoo.

Do you know the three R’s of successful project management?

They are real time, relationship and responsibility. These three R’s of project management can transform an idea into a successfully completed project. When planning a project it is important to give real time schedules in which a project can be finished. To do this, it’s important to make a plan of action. You want to include when will the project start, how long it will take, review points, due date and finalizing with the client.

Maintaining a positive, cooperative relationship with co-workers and clients is also essential to quality project management. Good communication is the key to these relationships. Take a few minutes to email, call and keep the other team members and the client informed about the current project stage.

Assigning individual responsibilities for the tasks and taking responsibilty for the overall project can be the difference between success and failure! Your name is on you work. Do a job that you want to stand behind. Not all projects succeed, but they do teach us about our weaknesses, strengths and where to improve. Practicing the three R’s of project management is your stepping stone to success.

Project management is a dynamic and multifaceted discipline that requires skillful navigation in a variety of domains. From time management to relationship building and taking on leadership roles, the foundational pillars of project management are rooted in the ability to balance and coordinate tasks to ensure a project’s success. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager or new to the field, understanding the complexities of time, relationships, and responsibilities is essential in any project’s execution. In this article, we will explore some key insights and strategies to help you excel in these three critical areas of project management.

As a project manager, one of the most important responsibilities you have is managing time expectations. With time being one of the most limited resources we have, it's essential that projects are completed on time and within budget. This can be a challenge, but with proper planning, it's possible to give realistic schedules in which a project can be finished. Planning a project is a key part of managing time expectations. You want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the project entails, who will be involved, and what resources will be needed. Once you have a good understanding of the project, you can begin to develop a plan of action. Your plan should include when the project will start, how long it will take, review points, due dates, and finalizing with the client. It's important to break the project down into manageable tasks and assign responsibilities to team members. This ensures that everyone knows what they are responsible for and can work towards a common goal. When developing your plan, it's important to take into account potential roadblocks that could arise during the project. It's unrealistic to expect everything to go smoothly, so be sure to build in some flexibility into your schedule. This will allow you to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and still keep the project on track. Regular review points throughout the project are crucial to managing time expectations. This allows you to keep track of progress, identify any areas where things are falling behind, and make adjustments as needed. By staying on top of the project throughout its lifecycle, you can avoid any surprises that could impact the timeline. Another important step to managing time expectations is to set due dates and communicate them clearly. Make sure all team members know when their tasks are due, and build in ample time for review and feedback. By setting due dates, you can ensure that the project stays on track and that everyone is working towards the same deadlines. Finally, it's important to finalize the project with the client. This is when you will deliver the finished product or service and get feedback. Make sure that the client understands the timeline and is on board with the schedule. If there are any changes or delays, be sure to communicate them clearly. In conclusion, managing time expectations in project management is a critical task. By planning the project properly, breaking it down into manageable tasks, building in flexibility, setting due dates, and communicating clearly with the client, you can ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. Remember to stay on top of progress and make adjustments as needed. By doing so, you'll be able to deliver successful projects that meet or exceed customer expectations.

Maintaining a positive, cooperative relationship with co-workers and clients is essential to quality project management. Successful project management cannot be achieved without effective communication, and strong communication skills are the key to building solid professional relationships. To be successful in any project management endeavor, project managers must put in the effort to maintain strong relationships with all stakeholders involved, including fellow team members and clients. First and foremost, good communication is fundamental to building cooperative relationships. Communication is more than just exchanging information; it is about connecting with others. Effective communication is about understanding the emotions and intentions behind the information being shared. When communication is practiced adequately, it is possible to build strong relationships with team members and clients. There are many ways to build good communication with co-workers and clients. One way is to take a few minutes to send an email, give a call or send a text with updates about the project. Keeping the other team members and clients in the loop about the current project stage not only helps maintain a positive relationship but is essential to effective project management. In addition to keeping team members informed, it is equally important to listen actively when communicating with them. Active listening means making a conscious effort to hear and interpret what the speaker is saying. It is an essential tool for fostering open communication and building robust professional relationships. Another way to establish a cooperative relationship with co-workers and clients is to practice empathy. By putting yourself in the other peoples' shoes and understanding their point of view, it is possible to build trust and establish a rapport that leads to effective communication. Empathy is also an important trait to have when working on projects, and it can be essential for identifying and addressing any concerns the team may have. Setting realistic expectations and following through on commitments is another key to maintaining strong professional relationships. Establishing clear timelines and keeping the team and clients informed of the progress of the project can help to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications. Furthermore, it shows that the project management team is committed to delivering quality work on time. In conclusion, maintaining positive and cooperative relationships with co-workers and clients is essential to quality project management. Good communication is the key to building these relationships, and communicating through various channels, such as emails, texts, and phone calls, is necessary to keep all stakeholders informed. Active listening, empathy, setting expectations and following through on commitments are all essential skills that can help to establish and maintain strong professional relationships. Remember, effective project management is about more than just getting the job done; it is also about building and maintaining relationships that enable everyone to work efficiently and effectively.

As a project manager, your reputation is on the line with every project you oversee. To ensure that you are consistently delivering quality work, it is essential to create an atmosphere of responsibility in your team. Whether you're just beginning your career as a project manager or are a seasoned professional, the following tips will help you achieve this goal. Firstly, it is important to establish clear roles and expectations for each member of your team. This will help everyone understand their individual responsibilities and what is expected of them in terms of contributing to the project's success. Being transparent with your team members will give them a sense of ownership to execute their tasks with care and consideration. Secondly, it's important to conduct periodic check-ins with individual team members to evaluate their progress and provide them with feedback. Frequent communication will allow for any issues to be addressed promptly, and it will also ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the project's progress. Another key aspect of creating responsibility in project management is to lead by example. As the project manager, your actions will significantly impact your team's behavior. When your team sees that you are taking responsibility for your work, they will be more likely to do the same. It's also essential to demonstrate integrity and honesty in all of your dealings. Additionally, making sure that everyone has access to project-related data is important. This equates to having a clear understanding of what is happening on the project in real-time. Evidently, regular updates, progress reports and status updates will work best for all stakeholders. Finally, the most crucial element of ensuring responsibility in project management is developing a team culture based on accountability. To achieve this, you should strive to create an environment that encourages your team members to take ownership of their work, hold themselves accountable for their actions, and commit to doing their best to achieve excellent results. In conclusion, project management is not easy, and it requires an excellent level of commitment and responsibility. It is vital to establish clear goals and expectations, monitor progress consistently, take responsibility for your own work, and lead by example. By doing this, you will cultivate a team culture of responsibility that will lead to successful projects and a successful career as a project manager. Remember, ultimately your name is on your work, and your reputation hangs on your ability to be a responsible and capable project manager.

In conclusion, mastering the three R's of Project Management (time, relationships, and responsibility) is essential to ensure project success. Time management skills ensure timely delivery of the project, developing positive relationships with team members and stakeholders improve collaboration and communication, and taking responsibility can foster a sense of ownership and accountability. These skills also translate well into other areas of life. Remember, managing projects can be challenging, but developing these skills can go a long way in making the process smoother for everyone involved. So, start mastering these R's today and take your projects to the next level!

About Dylan Hurd