Web Design Lives!

I'm not dead yet!
I’m not dead yet!


Someone over at UX Mag has declared that web design is dead, and we all need to be UX designers now. Hmm. Now I know how those medieval scribes felt when Gutenberg came out with his fancy new printing press. Or painters when the dagguerotype meant no-one would ever have their portrait painted again, or, much more recently, graphic designers when the introduction of the web meant no one would ever need print collateral again.

Over and over, we hear about the death of one artistic discipline in the face of a new technology, and over and over, the old tenaciously survives. Often, the shift exemplified by the new highlights unsustainable practices in the industry surrounding the old field.

Take music, for example. Record labels built their business model around having control over the expensive technology needed to record and distribute music. Powerful home computers, ever-improving software, and digital distribution gutted the foundation of that model. So for (at least) the past decade, the industry has been in upheaval as it simultaneously tries to patch a desperately broken system and reinvent itself. And yet, music is not dead.

I have friends who work as wedding photographers. A difficult industry in the first place, it’s increasingly hard to explain the value to consumers. As digital cameras have become ubiquitous, everyone’s got a friend with a decent consumer DSLR who they’re pretty sure can just get some pictures for them for free, or “as their wedding gift.” Meanwhile, people who do hire photographers now expect to have full rights to their photos to reprint and redistribute as they please, without coming back to the photographer each time. Yet my friends can still make a living. They’ve responded to the changes in technology and culture, and adapted their business models to work.

What wedding photographers have done, what musicians are doing (and labels are still figuring out), what practitioners of all sorts of disciplines have done throughout the ages is what we need to do. We adapt. This isn’t a big deal. Frankly, we’re better positioned than those who’ve worked in most of these fields throughout history. Web design has always been in flux, and we’ve always been racing to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.

So now there are new trends (template sites, social media), and new technologies (mobile, automation, the ever-elusive AI). What do we do? Adapt. We learn how to work with, through, and against these things as necessary, and we build better websites. We look at the trends and tech that we need to integrate, and we figure out how to do it well. We’ve always designed user experiences. We just do it on the web, so we call ourselves web designers. Web design lives on.

Staples Marketing will change its name to AFFIRM as of July 1, 2015!


We’ve been talking a little about the process we’ve undertaken in the past year or so to better define who we are at our agency; our purpose, mission, core values and the kind of work that inspires us and our clients. The end result of interviews, surveys, feedback and input from our staff, our clients, our vendor partners, colleagues, friends and family is a new name: AFFIRM.

We will be the same company with the same staff at the same location, but our new name better reflects the positively engaging marketing we do. We’ll write more about it in the coming weeks leading up to July 1, but in the meantime, see our news release about the name change.

Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?


Borrowing a refrain from The Who, ask yourself the same question about your company. Why? Your customers really wanna know. Your customers won’t know unless you know. What is your mission? Your promise? What do you deliver? What are your values? How do you treat employees? Clients? Vendors?

If you are having a hard time answering those questions, imagine what it’s like for your customers. While it may sound silly to work hard at defining and sharing your identity, it’s at the heart of the success of your business.  At Staples Marketing, we have spent a little more than a year asking ourselves those same questions, and finding a great deal of value in the answers. We are taking our own advice and our own medicine, and it’s good for us.

Why do you care about this? Well, if you’re a client, our soul-searching is likely to make our service to you even better, our vision clearer, and more consistent. If you’re not yet a client, you might be interested in seeing how this process works.

We’ll keep you posted – lots of new things to share in the next few weeks.

The Earworm


Photo source: Etsy.com

I first heard the term “earworm” a few years ago, but the phenomenon goes back much further than that.  The works of Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain and Seinfeld are some prominent places where you can find discussion of a song that you just can’t get out of your head.

I had an earworm recently that was a little unusual.  I don’t think I’m alone in that my earworms are generally songs with lyrics, as opposed to pieces of music that don’t feature singing.  This one had no lyrics but it really stuck.

The interesting thing about this earworm was the source – it’s a music bed from a Snapple commercial (linked below).  It caught my ear because the first time I heard it, I thought the saxophone-sounding part was a keymonica (pictured above).

What device actually made the music isn’t important.  What is important is that I’ve thought about this Snapple ad for a whole lot longer than I’ve thought about anything Snapple-related in quite some time.  Why?  Because the music that’s playing sounds like it might have come from a plastic musical instrument I used to bug my parents with as a kid.

I’m not saying that everybody should load up their commercials with keymonica music or similar-to-keymonica music, but this demonstrates how little details can go a long way towards winning your audience’s attention.  It’s not enough to just deliver a message.  There should always be a little pizazz (a song, a slogan, a spokesperson, etc.) to attract the eyes and ears and the brain!

If you’re having trouble reaching your audience or holding their attention, don’t underestimate the power of adding a little extra something(s) catchy to your message.  Don’t overpower your message, but don’t be afraid to add a couple of different hooks to catch more of your audience.

You know your message is right for your audience, so do whatever you can to keep them thinking about it!