Today I give you a cautionary tale.

Years ago, I worked for an old man. He’d built his fortune in a different industry and was trying something new – which is certainly admirable at any age.

Although he had amassed a lot of knowledge about certain things, he’d made one critical mistake: He stopped learning. He equated his past success with “I know all I need to know. All of these new-fangled things everyone is talking about – like the Internet – are just a fad.”

So day after day, this man would sit in his opulent office (floor-to-ceiling custom-built bookshelves, hand-crafted chandeliers, pieces from his personal art collection adorning the walls) and call his staff in one-by-one to discuss the running of his new venture.

He’d sit behind his mammoth desk and review printouts of the company website. Then he’d become increasingly frustrated at how visually unappealing the website was.

We’d explain that the webpage wasn’t meant to be printed out. It was meant to be viewed online – on a computer. (Of course, he refused to have one on his desk.) Over and over again, we talked about how links and buttons worked, so information could be categorized in different areas rather than crowding out the home page. We tried to help him understand that web pages weren’t supposed to be like brochures.

He didn’t get it. He didn’t want to get it. He certainly didn’t want to look at someone’s computer to find out what on earth we were talking about. (It was easier for him to pronounce us all idiots.)

And so the webpage looked … stupid. Like it was made by a bunch of people who didn’t get it.

Are You in Danger of Being That Guy/Girl?

That old man came to mind yesterday when I saw this infographic from AdWeek. It states that 7 out of 10 marketers under 50 believe that a mobile strategy is essential. In the over-50 group, only 5 out of 10 believe that.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Mobile is a different beast. You wouldn’t assume that a brochure would effectively translate to a webpage. You shouldn’t assume that your webpage will effectively translate to mobile.

I love this quote from Cliff Seal, UX Designer at Pardot. He says: “Mobile email is a very powerful thing. It connects with people in a moment where they have their guard down.”

It reminds me of something I read a while ago. A young Japanese girl was going to speak to someone about a difficult subject. A wise elder in her village counseled her that communicating wasn’t just about saying what you need to say, it was about saying it in a way that the other person could hear it and understand it. He said, “You wouldn’t go out to fly a kite on a day with no wind, would you?”

Think of your message like a kite. Refine it so it can catch the wind … and then let it fly. (And also, don’t be like my old boss. Never stop learning, no matter what age you are.)