Learning From History: 20 Years Of Mistakes

There's no chronological order to the countless mistakes that I've made over the last twenty years, nor I'm sure the same will be said for the next twenty years. Many of you will look at this list and laugh and think "what a fool." Others of you know that this industry, having been building site since 1994, had no rules, no manuals, no "best practice," just a lot of us 'winging it' and hoping we would make something great. We were, as we are all today digital pioneers. You say, well it's not like that today. In some cases you're right and in others not at all.

 

The reason why so many of us stay in this crazy mixed-up industry is that we first and foremost thrive on change. We get excited about new tools, new apps and new channels that we can explore. We use this exploration as a way to challenge all the projects before us. And in so doing we set ourselves up to stumble and fall as much as we succeed. My only advice is smile, dust yourself off, be humble and keep going and always remember everyone is smarter than you (in something) and to listen, engage and you need to keep up.

  • Making assumptions
  • Assuming you're current with technology and trends
  • Assuming the client understands where you are within the project
  • Assuming your results are accurate
  • Not doing multivariate testing on your digital properties
  • Don't pitch 'potential' concepts over drinks
  • Creating things for the web larger than 72 dpi
  • Selling an animated intro without a storyboard
  • Knowing when to stop defending the creative
  • Letting the account executive lead the creative outcome
  • Replying "All"
  • People don't have to give advice, always listen to it
  • Reacting to email, tweets and second hand intelligence without confirmation
  • Creating RGB print pieces
  • Define the decision maker with your client and pitch to them
  • Creating banners that exceeded 1mg in animation
  • Using the <blink> tag </tag>
  • Using the marquee tag
  • Don't involve yourself with your clients personal life
  • Hating Dreamweaver when it came out
  • Treating some clients better than others (Animal Farm)
  • Thinking 'frames' were awesome
  • Work with young designers and developers the most, it's always important to give back what you wish someone had told you
  • Never shit on an idea
  • Play and have fun with your clients; if you don't the outcome will suffer
  • Thinking image maps were awesome
  • Making the logo that much bigger
  • Discounts to clients that have legacy only and have shown the ability to pay quickly
  • If you work from home don't bring your client there
  • Not firing a client that should have been
  • Making the point size to the copy that much bigger
  • Showing that one comp that you [hope] the client won't pick
  • Tweeting marketing snippets
  • Not charging for what your time is really worth
  • Drinking my own Cool Aid
  • Keeping bids in the pipeline at all times
  • Doing the work without a contract
  • Doing the work for "points" (percentage) on the project's outcome
  • Doing work for friends
  • Not asking enough questions of the client when you first had a chance
  • Biting off more than you can chew
  • When pitching you must read the room and not the slides
  • "Man Up" to your failures publicly
  • Remembering that there's always time to teach others best practices
  • Learning to let creative be "complete"
  • Debating the clients (in house) designer/web team
  • No submitting change orders to your client
  • Poor quoting of projects
  • Leaving jobs that I should have stayed at for more money and career advancement
  • Sacrificing quality of life for a bigger salary
  • Designing less and not shooting for the moon
  • Not 'tooting my own horn enough' (self promotional PR)
  • Not taking the client to court for unpaid invoices
  • Trying to do everything yourself and not hiring vendors that are better than me
  • Relying on the client for necessary assets (e.i. - photos, copy and mandatories)
  • Not creating an information architecture
  • Not standing up for myself or others that required my assistance
  • Not creating a wireframe
  • Not creating a creative brief
  • Not doing a competitive analysis
  • Letting the client dictate the campaign directive blindly
  • Not having my content proofed for misspeellings and grammatical errors ;)
  • Getting too excited about a new social service tool that doesn't have a following
  • Overly reacting to trolls or flamers
  • Promising search engine results
  • Helping the client rewrite their content, business model or goal directives (at no additional charge of course)
  • Assuming you understand the client's customer base
  • Disregarding initial campaign metrics in hopes that they will improve
  • Hiring based on pedigree and not portfolio
  • Not saying no to pro-bono work (judge by the cause not the influence)
  • Not saying no to anything!
  • Treat all your vendors equally they talk to clients too
  • Not starting a blog sooner
  • Spending too much time trying to convince clients of the validity of technology, social or specific growth channels
  • Too much talking, not enough listening
  • Letting the stress of what I do, squelch the love of what I do

Care to exorcise and demons and chime in, or are you one of the perfect ones that has no flaws? I think it's important to stay humble and always learn from what we do. What are you thoughts? Comment and share below, I'd love to hear from you!

Posted on August 2, 2011 and filed under Business, Management, Process, Soapbox.