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April 14, 2017 - Comments Off on Dave Fletcher and The Mechanism Cover Story in The Silicon Review

Dave Fletcher and The Mechanism Cover Story in The Silicon Review

Photo ©Annabel Clark

Dave Fletcher, Founder and Executive Director of The Mechanism was interviewed for the Cover Story in the latest issue of The Silicon Review.

Some highlights:

“Over the past 16-plus years, we’ve seen significant changes in the visual design/development sector and the clients we serve. Business (r)evolutions are occurring at a much faster rate than in the past, especially in technology. Deliberate and unintentional disruptions to the way businesses communicate with their chosen audience have ushered forth new ways of thinking about the direction and definition of branding in the digital age.”

“In many ways, these disruptions are a good thing,” says Dave.“For example, entrepreneurs, previously adverse to launching a new idea or service, are becoming increasingly unencumbered by many of the early financial risks included with a product launch. If an idea is remarkable and surrounded by a modicum of social media outreach and localized enthusiasm, the audience will not only help to fund a useful product or service, they will evangelize it to their personal social networks. This is the Kickstarter model – an upending of the business mindset – where anyone can present an idea to the marketplace, extricated by corporate interests or expectations. Brand “fans” are rebuilding the markets by themselves, not just the corporations anymore.”

Photo ©Annabel Clark

Fletcher on The Mechanism's experience:

"Our experience is a differentiator which strengthens our ability to predict changes in the diversified, evolving business ecosystem. We closely follow futurist interpretations because we are engaged with its endless possibilities to enhance and help the planet and society at large. Also, our ability to work directly with any type of corporate entity or personality comes with our collective experience and fearlessness to take on any project that presents itself. I prefer to build relationships for the long-haul. Executives always move on to new endeavors and projects and have built a comfortability level directly with either me or my colleagues. These very intimate relationships, forged through trust, have served us well."

Fletcher on the challenges in the industry

"One of our crucial jobs as digital creative consultants is to help company leadership and their marketing teams understand as much as they can about the human beings they are reaching out to with their brand identity. No matter the size of our client engagement, their audience is always the gauge and the most important thing to focus on. First, we need to know what the audience wants and expects, and not what the leadership expects. It is a tough pill to swallow at times, because when you are working with large companies, there tend to be large egos involved at the top. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. It is definitely a large part of how they achieved success in the first place. Once we understand their audience fully, we can then examine industry trends and data, understand the CEO’s vision and investigate all of the things that are a part the brand or company. By looking at the audience first, we tend to find very useful information."

Read the entire article at http://thesiliconreview.com/magazines/we-deliver-enabling-and-transformative-design-solutions-to-businesses-organizations-and-individuals-seeking-to-benefit-from-it-the-mechanism/

Published by: Sharon Terry in The Design Mechanism, The Thinking Mechanism

February 13, 2017 - No Comments!

“Throughout this Big Idea” article by Dave Fletcher in CIO Review

Founder Dave Fletcher was recently featured in the technology section of CIO Review. His thought-piece, "Throughout this Big Idea" offers a perspective on the history of manipulation through advertising and the importance of taking the time to absorb multiple viewpoints in the age of "Alternative Facts". Written before the 2016 Presidential election, the article presents a stark and vital viewpoint about the dangers of media manipulation from a technology industry veteran.

Modern technology and network-based communication contains and amplifies the desire originally facilitated by the print, radio and television mediums. As the internet continues to evolve, we must recognize that the quality of information is crucial. Groups of humans have always preferred to gather where people share the same beliefs, and without careful deliberation, we may continue to separate humanity into tribes of singular opinions. It's one of our great flaws, and keeps a vast majority distant from truly understanding those who oppose them. Viewpoint is religion and technology is the church. Right and wrong are blurred thanks to the internet's delivery mechanism, which facilitates quantity over quality. One could even argue that a younger generation has become accustomed to perceived communication patterns predominantly through text entry rather than actual speech - internalizing our thoughts and espousing complexity through emoji. It's faster, but certainly is a means to impede advancing our brains to their fullest potential. Wide-eyed, yet lacking wisdom, we coast dangerously close to only consuming what we understand implicitly. This is how technology captures us and how we lose our humanity; our ability to reason and the desire to better ourselves through healthy disagreement, knowledge and discourse.

Humanizing the Machine

If we learn one thing by examining the past of any medium’s evolution or any technology revolution, it's that as time goes on, we expect things to get easier. Interface design has always been about humanizing the machine - cleanly separating us from the bits and bytes; from the tedium of engaging with an electronic contraption by creating a natural interaction without falling face-first into the uncanny valley. The interfaces of the next generation of devices will follow the engagement rules perfected by the veterans of the digital era, but complexity will be undercut by the passive introduction of vocal dialogue with our device. As Artificial Intelligence improves, we will learn from and mimic the personalities of our devices. And likely, vice-versa.

Read the entire article in CIO Review: http://web-development.cioreview.com/cxoinsight/throughout-this-big-idea-nid-23278-cid-121.html

For additional information, speaking or media inquiries, please contact Sharon Terry (sharon.terry@themechanism.com)

November 4, 2016 - No Comments!

Dave Fletcher named as one of the Top 50 Creative CEO’s to Watch

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Dave Fletcher, CEO of The Mechanism is defining digital branding in a new way by maintaining an interest in and working with tactile relationships; understanding what it means to interact physically with something – whether it is a brand or an experience, and interjecting the potential of a human being actually enjoying the interaction. Under his leadership, The Mechanism strives to create affection for clients’ brands by injecting organic, fluid and meaningful interactions into the digitally-driven solutions that they are creating.

http://bit.ly/50-most-creative-ceos-to-watch

InsightsSuccess Magazine, described as an arch that is sustaining Entrepreneurs quench regarding technology and business update that is currently ruling the business world, featured The Mechanism's founder, Dave Fletcher in their latest issue in their list of Top 50 Creative CEO's to Watch.

The Mechanism’s team is selected on the basis of acumen, longevity and belief that the future is brighter when people are able to connect with one another through technology. Dave is confident that The Mechanism will continue to function as an innovator and conduit for these types of technologies while maintaining a grasp on the humanity that is required for authentic relationships between people, their devices and brands, individuals or products.

In the two-page interview, Dave candidly discusses The Mechanism's history, successes, and ways to continue to be innovative in the modern age.

We will remain visual design-focused and technology-mindful well into our foreseeable future. We can never forget that on the other side of our client’s device, there’s a human being – looking to be astonished and wishing to be connected to something bigger than themselves

Read more in the latest issue of InsightsSuccess Magazine: http://bit.ly/50-most-creative-ceos-to-watch

July 25, 2016 - No Comments!

Dave Fletcher: The Power of Digital Design and Strategy for Affectionate Human Interactions

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Our founder, Dave Fletcher was interviewed for CIO Outlook.

Read the entire interview, right here: http://bit.ly/CIOoutlook

Check out some highlights here:

"We will soon live with systems that interpolate Big Data seamlessly - by plugging directly into an artificial or ambient intelligence to manage your life, curate your interests, drive a vehicle, keep track of your day to day travels and never force you to remove yourself from an existing experience to use a website to research what the Network will already know you’re looking for. The next generation will be the “Mighty Untethered”, ubiquitously connected to the cloud. You and your friends and colleagues interests will be part of the system, and as they change, so will your personal experience to match your tastes. Diseases, dangers, economies and civilizations will be repaired on a global scale due to mass shared information and the artificial intelligence to be gained from it."

Read the entire interview, right here: http://bit.ly/CIOoutlook

July 21, 2016 - No Comments!

Highlights of an interview with Dave Fletcher in CTO/CFO Magazine

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The Founder of The Mechanism, Dave Fletcher, was interviewed in the recent issue of CTO/CFO Magazine about the company, their work and what surprised him over the past 16 years of running a company.

Read the entire interview, conducted by Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine right here: http://bit.ly/CTOCFOinterview

Here are some highlights:

CEOCFO: Mr. Fletcher, front and center on your site is “We use technology to develop authentic and affectionate interactions between human beings.” What does that mean day-to-day? What are you doing at The Mechanism?

Mr. Fletcher: I founded the company in 2001, and have worked in the digital design field since 1996. One thing I discovered early on is that many digital agencies were focused purely on technology and programmatic solutions, and less so on developing human-focused, branded interactions. After all, whether it’s an app, a website or another hybrid interface, ultimately, there’s a human being on the other side looking to build a relevant, enduring relationship with a brand or product. Since my background is in brand identity development, I still maintain an interest and enjoy working with tactile experiences and understanding what it means to interact with something; whether it is a brand or an experience. Therefore, The Mechanism strives to create affection for our client’s brands by injecting organic, fluid and meaningful interactions into the digital solutions that we are creating.


CEOCFO: When you are developing a concept for a client what might you take into consideration that less experienced people do not realize is important?

Mr. Fletcher: The number one thing I explain to our clients is that no matter the size -- their audience is always the gauge – the most important thing to focus on. What does your audience want? What does your audience expect? Not, what do "you" expect. It is a tough pill to swallow at times. This is because when you are working with large companies, there tends to be large egos involved at the top. There is nothing wrong with that, because I believe that it is definitely a part of how they achieved success. However, I also believe that one of the most important things is to help company leadership (and their marketing teams) understand as much as they can about the people they are reaching out to with their brand identity. What do they expect? Where else do they go online? What are some of the apps they use? In knowing this, it helps us pull it back to a second tier, which is, “Let us look at what else is going on in your industry by examining trends and data, and let us look at all of those things that are a part of who you are as a brand or company.” By looking at the audience first, we tend to find serviceable information.


CEOCFO: On your website it indicates you do select projects on the basis of their challenges and opportunities. Do you know pretty quickly when you are first talking with someone if the project is right for you? How do you know?

Mr. Fletcher: We look at projects that have a meaningful impact. I know that sounds like kind of a bogus response, but we really like working with clients that are either doing good for other people, helping people succeed, or helping people enjoy their lives or their work lives. It is funny, because when you focus on positivity, if someone contacts you and has a well funded, but personal project that may not have a positive impact on a larger scale, it is easier to turn them away. In rare cases, we will look at a project on the basis of what the long-term ramifications are. When we worked with Flight of the Concords, for example, we enjoyed the music, and they were nice guys. Over the years, we have gotten a lot of interest for potential employees and interns from that client. Was it a financial windfall because we worked with them? Absolutely not. But that's ok, because from a business standpoint it was something that helped us to build reputation. Therefore, occasionally projects will come along that are reputation builders and not the most financially fantastic.


Read the entire interview, conducted by Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine right here: http://bit.ly/CTOCFOinterview

August 28, 2015 - No Comments!

How to Build a Smart Company by Hiring Client-Facing Teams

Building a smart company requires all the traits they teach you in school: personal persistence, vision, acumen and inner confidence - but subscribing solely to that rationale, is too myopic. Your company is never about you - it's about your clients.

Please. Never forget that.

It's only after you've started the company and had the time to recognize your personal points of failure, that you ultimately come to the conclusion that you must surround yourself with people much smarter than you are. Some people go out of business before they get out of their own way. But when you surround yourself with sharp people, you develop a consistent source of inspiration, expand your company potential, and build a team that actually enjoys each other's company.

In the past 14 years, one crucial thing that I've learned is to be on the lookout for people that can be brought in front of clients and will add something useful to the conversation when they are there. Every person you hire will not be instantly ready for that step, but you must learn to identify the people that can eventually reach that goal.

Here are some criteria that I look for when interviewing people at The Mechanism. These questions help me to make the decision about whether or not they will be able to meet directly with clients:

  • Does the candidate have clear and focused communication skills? (e.g. how quickly does any nervousness dissipate during the interview)
  • Do they have the ability to teach me something that I don't know? This speaks directly to communication skills and teaching ability. Good teachers deliver knowledge with empathy. (I also may have stolen this one from @ElonMusk )
  • What do the other team members think about the candidate? Typically, the first interview is conducted without me even in the room. I want to get a gauge from my staff what they think first. If my team has reservations - 10 times out of 10 - I take a pass. Trust your team or don't hire them in the first place.
  • What was the last book the candidate read? It's a personal question, but speaks volumes more than asking their favorite outdoor activity (If it's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss, you may actually have to give them a shot...)
  • What is the candidate's process to complete a project? The journey is more important than the final destination.
  • What was the most difficult conversation they had with a previous employer or client, and...Who was at fault? Useful responses and stories come out of this one, especially with regard to how they will work in the future with clients and team members.
  • When was the last time they experienced failure? A candidate willing to discuss their shortcomings openly - are surprisingly strong spirits.

Learning how to lead is a tug-of-war between our inner selves. It's the leaders who learn to let go of their ego – and hire true genius – that will build solid, loyal, creative teams and stand the test of time.

As part of our 14-year celebration, we sat down with our Founder, Dave Fletcher -- to talk candidly about The Mechanism, how it started and where it's headed. We've put together a series of short video clips from the lengthy interview that we'll be sharing over the next several weeks.

August 10, 2015 - No Comments!

Being Fearless in Business

In this short, Dave talks about why The Mechanism has been fearless with approaching different industries for work. As part of our 14-year celebration, we sat down with our Founder, Dave Fletcher -- to talk candidly about The Mechanism, how it started and where it's headed. We've put together a series of short video clips from the lengthy interview that we'll be sharing over the next several weeks.

August 7, 2015 - No Comments!

Starting a Business in New York with Dave Fletcher

As part of our 14-year celebration, we sat down with our Founder, Dave Fletcher, to talk candidly about The Mechanism and starting a business in New York. We've put together a series of short video clips from the lengthy interview that we'll be sharing over the next several weeks. In this video, Dave talks about starting the company one month before 9/11 - in August 2001.

October 17, 2014 - No Comments!

Highlights of: Mobile Web Design Trends: Q&A with Dave Fletcher

Hightlights of an interview with Dave Fletcher from The Creative Group. Read the entire interview right here: https://www.roberthalf.com/creativegroup/blog/mobile-web-design-trends-qa-with-dave-fletcher


Our first interviewee is Dave Fletcher, founder and DEO (design executive officer) of The Mechanism, a digital agency based in New York City. For more than two decades, this noted design expert has explored a wide range of media, including interactive design, print, video and photography for clients around the globe.

What's a mobile trend that's working well?

You've probably heard a great deal about the "Internet of Things." Apple has announced HomeKit, which will turn your iPhone into a remote control for your interconnected home. To expand on this, eventually, we will live with systems that plug into an artificial or ambient intelligence to manage your life, curate your interests, drive a vehicle and keep track of your day-to-day travels. It will never force you to remove yourself from an existing experience to use a website to research what the network will already know you're looking for.

What's a mobile trend you wish would just go away?

Selfies.

How do you determine whether a client needs an app, mobile-specific site or responsive site to reach their customers via mobile devices?

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Dave Fletcher

Typically, the answer emerges from an honest and collaborative conversation with our client partner about their audience, their ambitions and their budget. The audience is key here, and in most cases, the client has an idea from either Google Analytics or other research as to what type of device or devices their end users have.

Mobile plans, available carriers and speed of connectivity based on geolocation of the target audience are important yet often overlooked factors when it comes to a mobile initiative. They should be researched as well so we have an understanding of these factors during the planning phase.

If the client requires deep integration with a smartphone operating system that simply cannot be replicated within the smartphone browser's capabilities or there are very serious security concerns, a discussion about appropriate mobile operating systems and native app development can take place.

To address the "mobile-specific site" or "responsive site" question: A digital experience should always be designed and built to render and function appropriately on all devices.


Read the entire interview right here: https://www.roberthalf.com/creativegroup/blog/mobile-web-design-trends-qa-with-dave-fletcher

Published by: Sharon Terry in The Thinking Mechanism
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October 3, 2014 - Comments Off on Avoiding a Mobile House of Cards

Avoiding a Mobile House of Cards

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"There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth." -Francis Underwood

In 2010, Morgan Stanley Research extended their financial necks and predicted that the "mobile internet would overtake the desktop PC by 2014." I talked about the importance of that research the first time I spoke at the PRSA International conference about mobile in 2011. So, how accurate were they (and [arguably] even more importantly, how foolish might I look this year, if they were wrong)?

In January 2014, according to data from comScore, cited by research firm, Enders Analysis, mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States. Traffic from PC's clocked in at 45%. A mobile strategy is no longer a "nice to have" luxury - it's the present and future of communications with regard to B2C and B2B communications. Companies and corporations that have yet to allocate resources for a mobile strategy, or have taken shortcuts with their mobile approach are building a house of cards – and it's about to take a tumble. Mobile has won.

The dictionary defines a "House of Cards" as a flimsy structure, arrangement, or situation that is in danger of collapsing or failing.

Your first consideration for expanding or enhancing any brand within the digital space begins with how the information will be received on a mobile device. While the near future will likely include universally acceptable, massive flatscreen entertainment portals with easy-to-use internet access, for the moment we’re talking about the now instead of the future now – while planning both responsively and reactively for the eventual.

Three Questions

There are three high-level questions to ask when building a strategy to avoid a house of cards. While these bullets may appear simple, the details are important. Building upon a structure of understanding carefully will elevate further insights and ultimately determine how well received your digital experience will be on all devices.

  • Who is the audience?
  • What do they want?
  • Where are they accessing content?

"After all, we are nothing more or less than what we choose to reveal." -Francis Underwood

Who is the audience?

Speak openly and honestly with your client about their audience. Conduct interviews with key stakeholders. Learn about your clients competitors and review the digital experiences they are likely to visit in tandem with your clients brand. Build exhaustive and clear user case studies to better understand gender, age and other criteria, to consider who will be accessing brand from a digital perspective. If the client has been online for some time, request access to a potentially vast treasure trove of information available from Google analytics to expose further details about the audience: specific times they are most likely accessing the site; what devices they are using. All of this information will allow you to prepare surmountable goals and clear the path for the measurable and appropriate design/UI decisions you will soon be making.

What do they want?

From a mile up, the client or a copywriting research team should be able to articulate what content best suits the audience. Aside from the standard questions that will help design a high-level content inventory plan, the importance of how vastly different mobile content is from the desktop is crucial and must be articulated to the client. To start with the obvious, the real estate you have to work with is different. Consider quantity and the breadth of content you should show to someone on a mobile device vs. a larger tablet or desktop device. Keep in mind, mobile users are on the go, and have a shortened attention span. Content should should always be readable, usable and most importantly – appropriate for the device.

To take a page from Apple’s iOS guidelines, "Text is legible, icons are precise and lucid, adornments are subtle and appropriate and a sharpened focus on functionality should motivate the design." For smartphones in particular, a single column layout is the easiest to absorb for mobile, and calls to action should should be represented by areas no smaller than 44px x 44px (here's a case where a "rule of thumb" is about your actual thumbs). Place important content above the "fold", or immediately viewable area on mobile – like contact info and important calls to action.

Where are they accessing content?

Business Intelligence gained through data collection is imperative. According to IBM, Five petabytes of data are generated every day by mobile phone subscribers. This is roughly the equivalent of 100 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with paper. The means the data you need to best serve mobile content to your audience is out there.

Google Analytics (GA) data will help, as will statistical data, reports about your client's industry and the general mobile landscape, and interviews with key stakeholders and investors. Google Analytics reports will aid in understanding the devices and mobile operating systems currently accessing a digital experience, as well as the location that they are accessing the experience from. If your client is international, pay close attention to their specific carriers and regions. This is also important if your client is predominantly reaching a North America or United States-only market as well. There are still areas in this hyper-connected country where connectivity is spotty or slower than you might expect.

Your plan should be to create the fastest loading experience for your mobile audience as possible, regardless of the device. This can be accomplished in several ways, one of which is limiting or eliminating images that are unnecessary for the overall user experience. When using icons as calls to action, utilize a single image (usually referred to in the HTML development world as a "sprite") for multiple icons to create a single call to the server, cutting down on latency issues that slow down user experience. 60% of visitors on a mobile device wait 3 seconds or less for your page to load on mobile.

We no longer access the majority of our internet content from the desktop. According to a survey run by Google/Nielsen in Q4 of 2012, 77% of mobile searches were from a location (work or home) likely to have a desktop PC available. Stationary, plugged-in devices are not suitable for today's attention deficit disorder audience. We're easily distracted multi-taskers – always on the move – and as such – we want our content to join us on our journey. We desire access to data at our beck and call. Always consider how to deliver content to smartphones, phablets, tablets, wearables, and even ultra books - all devices that are in the mobile ecosystem and the inevitable future of the post desktop landscape.

"There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong and useless pain, the sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things." -Francis Underwood

Building a mobile strategy isn't easy. Mobile involves many moving parts, working with right digital partners, and the willingness to take risks based on the inevitable future. 40% of mobile users turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience, and this number is growing. It's especially difficult for large corporations to jump in full throttle – but they must. If not, they will likely perish under the waves of progress and watch helplessly as the mobile house of cards inevitably collapses around their valuable brand.

Published by: davefletcher in Entertainment, The Thinking Mechanism
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