As much as I dislike the cold weather, when snow falls, we all slow down here in the South — and that I secretly love. We have to pause because most of us don’t have experience driving in snow, and our area isn’t well prepared for “wintry mix” or serious snowstorms. There’s usually a flurry of activity at the grocery store in the 24 hours before a storm, but then a hush falls over the town I live in.
There is great value in this forced slowing down.
When I think about websites, content and technology, I deeply believe the best experiences don’t come from hurrying. I’m not just talking about the final results — perhaps a beautiful, responsive website — but also the process for the people who create these things.
There is a quote I love that I refer to often:
“We live by slowing down and saying with our lives that the world will not be saved by frantic activity.” – Stanley Hauerwas, theologian, Duke University
This is written on top of my digital to-do list. When I’m hurrying to create content, it’s not fun. It's evident in the final product. I do better work when I listen, consider, reflect, reconsider, then act.
Especially on social media, it can feel like lot of pressure to produce things quickly – for example, another blog post or more tweets. “Don’t just sit there, do something!” sometimes seems to be the message.
But when I look at the people and organizations I really value, they aren’t bombarding me with information or running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Two examples come to mind:
- Smashing Magazine who only emails me once a month with a newsletter. I look forward to it because I know it will have thoughtful, interesting and useful content in it.
- Twitter member and usability expert Steve Krug tweets every few days or less. I like reading what he tweets out, and I don't need him to tweet 5 times a day.
Much of the time on Twitter and other online spaces, there are organizations and people spewing information about nothing of value. If I came across these overly talkative folks at a party, I would likely scoot to the other side of the room.
Now you can be that person at the party who talks all the time to hear themselves talk, or you could be the person who speaks up less frequently, more deliberately and more thoughtfully. At least for many professional service businesses and organizations, the second option may serve them best (e-commerce might be another story). I value those people who are ok with the silence and the slowing down, who trust that frantic activity isn’t going to make our websites better or our lives better or the whole world better.
I vote we slow down more frequently to do more impactful work and have more meaningful conversations. We can make this world a better place to be.