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Lessons from 2020

January 4, 2021
Firecat Studio UX Remote Event Design

Everybody can adapt and change

They just have to want to!

Firecat Studio has always been a remote team, so we’ve been using Zoom for years. That Zoom knowledge became super relevant to our clients and friends needing to quickly pivot their meetings and events online.

The biggest surprise was: people adapted so quickly! I watched with awe as clients, schools, universities, and families rapidly adjusted to remote business, meetings, events, and learning. Remote schooling. Parenting while working from home. Huge enterprises shuttering their campuses, but the sky definitely didn’t fall. People adapted.

They complain, and joke about the problems, but they’re connecting just fine with the new tools.

The takeaway: They just needed a reason to undertake the learning curve, and just enough support to jump the few hurdles.

Firecat Studio home page image

Slowing down can be productive

The "Great Pause" at the beginning of the pandemic meant some projects Firecat had expected to work on didn't come to pass. Turns out the pause created several opportunities.

Being “forced” to slow down at first activated scarcity thinking. But after a few weeks, something shifted. We began to imagine what we could build with this sudden gift of time.

We refocused on our strengths — and how we can use them to make the online world a better place. We created three exciting new offers to introduce folks to user experience strategy, usability, and accessibility.

COVID-19 World Map

We really are co-creating our reality

Each choice we make carries consequences. And the choices we make together affect us all.

When we consider the trends of globalization, urbanization, easy worldwide travel, consumerism — it was only a matter of time before another global pandemic.

I study with a group of people who study Responsibility — we strive to accept the power of choice in our lives. And we’ve had some fascinating discussions about the ways we’ve helped create the reality we are now in. 

That means the choices we make now also matter — wearing a mask, or curtailing travel and visits, donating to causes that address problems, voting…

Humans are bad at analyzing facts

Are we even capable of studying and analyzing the facts of a situation, or are we at the mercy of the most compelling or attractive "story"?

My 30 years of experience with marketing and digital design lead me to the conclusion that we are all extremely susceptible to spin and story.

Studying cognitive biases is humbling, and it can be demoralizing in a contentious election year. We seem to be in a post-factual world.

I’m seeing writing from a wide variety of disciplines referring to concepts we study in user experience design: The Dunning-Kruger effect (you don’t know what you don’t know), confirmation bias (I follow and trust news sources that match my existing assumptions), and dozens — if not hundreds — more chinks in the analytical armor.

simple single solitary tree on a bare landscape

Less is plenty

All the things I thought I'd miss — the things I thought I couldn't live without — are optional. I really need very little.

I like to think I’m not very materialistic; this year taught me that I was wrong about that.

Despite having read and followed The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo), and working to essentialize processes, I’m addicted to complexity.

This year taught me that my business runs fine — better, even — when I get out of the team’s way and let them run.

My marriage works better when I’m around more, and I feel more supported in all that I do.

We can even get by with less toilet paper and paper towels. I can afford to retire earlier than I thought possible.

 

Large crowd of people (thousands) seen from above

What Really Matters: People

The people in my life are what have carried me through this disruption.

I can’t imagine how this pandemic year would have passed without the internet. Without Zoom. Without phones. Without Netflix.

What I’m left with at the end of 2020 is a renewed desire to create the online world I want to inhabit.

I feel a bit like Steve Jobs, creating a computer he could carry around in his pocket, because HE wanted one.

I want to have the easy connection with the ones I love, friends who inspire me — without the ugliness and danger of trolls, hackers and evildoers. I want votes to matter, and citizens to have voices that resonate.

I want people to have access to other people developing amazing products and services that make the world a better place.

I want to use my skills to create a better online world. I want to provide other creative professionals the opportunity to team up to make that happen.

Not bad for a pandemic, rebuilding, reassessing year.

p.s. I miss being in crowds of people!

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