Google Reader for some algorythmic reason suggested that I read Fallon Planning‘s blog and while I am not a planner, Fallon didn’t sound like such a bad source. And as I read their first post about the usual “unmanage your brand”, “put people in charge” and “conversation-based campaign”, Conner’s mentioning of “eternal beta” stuck with me.
What if “eternal beta” , this expectation of flexibility and ever-changing functionality, usage and interpretation had to apply to the sheer visual veneer of a campaign? By now we are accustomed to users submitting stuff and this material being “all over the place” in visual terms. That’s fair enough since playing around with brand guardian-approved icons doesn’t produce the greatest variety or interestingness.
What if the whole campaign shell (layout, type, colors, contrast, GUI, sounds, animations) has no boundaries or fixed form? Is there any consistency left that makes a campaign recognizable, memorable and therefore have any effect? Sure, Tomato had an early stab at an ever-changing logo for SONY in 2001 and there have always been remixing tools for existing web pages, the latest being TenaciousD or Atmosphere’s Paint.
Yet I don’t recall sites, banners or other digital formats that let you basically change absolutely everything. Choose a color combo from Adobe’s Kuler, pick your favourite DaFont and while you’re at it, flip through the visual preferences your social graph shares with you.
Of course all of that is pretty involved and works against the lean-back trend of consuming content online. Is it fair to say that eternal visual Beta isn’t in the interest of users, after all why should they come and re-arrange YOUR living room before watching TV? And if I want to see randomly designed pages that hurt the eye, I go to MySpace.