Manifestly Digital was originally published at manifestlydigital.com.
We are Digital.
A sense of reverence for print will live on for years, but ultimately we are living in a post-print society where information is communicated and consumed digitally.
This started long before the web, with the advent of radio and television. Newspapers have been dying for years and magazines face incredible challenges and often fail. Once-groundbreaking tech publications are now going for $1 per issue.
Order a book online. You may think it is published by Picador, but when it comes you find it was printed on demand the day you ordered it.
In-store environments increasingly rely on screens to attract, communicate and convert. Where once static photography could be depended on to persuade consumers, motion has proven more compelling. Interactive displays allow consumers to explore products via 3D models and non-linear experiences that outline feature sets. Voice and sound are used to surround the consumer in immersive experiences. Augmented reality offers novel ways to engage users — but at the same time — all of reality is now augmented.
We hail rides, rent scooters, check on flight status. We make reservations for a night out as we are riding to the restaurant. All via digital.
We are floating.
We’re untethered, finally.
We haven’t been dependent on desktop computers to access virtually anything for a decade. We have reached an age where answers are immediately available.
Everything is accelerating
Our lives are busy.
The demand for always-accessible information is growing.
Information is ambient
Humans worldwide are hungry for content, information, data, delivered via multiple, differentiated media and a proliferating list of devices and platforms.
We seek out information, but we don’t need to. It’s ubiquitous, ambient. We perceive information.
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
What is digital?
Digital experiences comprise the following, plus experiences that haven’t been imagined:
Mobile has infiltrated our lives and infected us.
We are media addicts. We constantly reach out for stimulation. Therefore, mobile must be the first consideration.
Social is the gateway, many times. It is ubiquitous and ever-mutating. We check it when we are waiting in line, taking an Uber, stopped at a red light. Let’s exploit the unique opportunities on each platform. Users can follow the path back to the base, or they can think of social as the base (following, subscribing).
Experiences are the atom. We live in time and space.
Interpreting the physical world has been the primary experience for the last 1.8 million years (if we start with homo erectus). Let’s define these experiences as in-situ: in-store, in-office, in-booth, out-of-home, pop-up shop and other experiences where environmental design is augmented by interactives, kiosks, touchscreens or augmented reality.
These are gateways that lead users back to the base. Sometimes these lead to social, which may or may not lead back to the base. We can’t rely on linear paths anymore.
Games and interactives build engagement.
These are also in-store, in-office, in-booth, out-of-home, pop-up shop and other experiences where environmental design is augmented by interactives, kiosks, touchscreens or augmented reality.
The web is the hub, the base.
Websites should be just as unexpected, engaging, thrilling as the experiences that lead a user to the base.
By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.
The web is not enough
Even if it is the hub, It is no longer the primary destination. If you want it to be the primary destination, give people a reason to come: a stream of content that gets updated or added to regularly, a mind-blowing interactive, a game that entertains.
Digital is about experiences.
We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.
There is no single digital strategy
Twenty years ago everyone needed a website and the website needed to include everything about the company. Today? Smaller. More concise. hyper-focused.
Digital is broad, and it is always morphing, mutating. Digital was born out of the web but continues to evolve. The defining elements of digital may be outdated and passé within months. Platforms and channels will come and go, but experiences will continue to evolve.
Ten rules for digital*
- What are we trying to accomplish? That is always the first question.
- Develop a unique strategy and be selective about the channels used.
- Meet users where they are. Be targeted.
- Expect users to find you through a social channel.
- Consumers want to taste first. Small bites.
- Everything should answer a need. Conversations, not promotion.
- Be integrated, think holistically.
- Give customers a way to promote on your behalf.
- Is it working? Keep at it, but try different channels.
- Do something unexpected — at regular intervals — to make sure the audience is still listening.
*Brands must embrace digital to remain relevant.