Thoughts from Thinking Digital…

Thanks to a competition by the lovely folks over at Digital Lancashire, I scored myself a freebie to the Thinking Digital Manchester conference; a chance to get together with a community of digital and tech experts (geeks!), to zoom out and get a wider view of the digital world.

Hosted by founder, Herb Kim, we were treated to a selection of world-class speakers including Pioneer Youtuber Myles Dyer and Dave Asprey, founder of The Bulletproof Executive (and Bulletproof Coffee).

There was so much thought-provoking content during the day, but I’d like to take a few minutes to share some thinking from just two of the conference speakers.

First up is Sarah Drinkwater, Head of Campus at Google. Campus is a community hub in London (Shoreditch – of course!), where people can come together to run business, dream dreams and work in collaboration with one another.

Her ethos emphasised the idea that “groups can do what individuals can’t”. At Campus they aim to “provide the spark to galvanise what’s already there”, creating the space to allow discussion to happen, which brings out some of the best ideas.

This is a concept we firmly believe in at Happy HQ, and our ‘Happy Storms’ allow us to bounce ideas off one another until we find that gem. Working in a small office allows for collaborative thinking, continued learning and inspirational conversation on a daily basis.

If you find yourself in a larger office, or conversely working alone – I’d encourage you to connect with a core group of like-minded people and just see what happens!

The second speaker I’d like to highlight is Digital Design Innovator, Clara Gaggero Westaway. She briefly showed us a very cool invention that linked a real-world LEGO calendar to your online calendar (can we get one in the office please?)

But the main focus was on finding a balance of context, empathy and magic in digital products. So here are some of my thoughts on this:

Context – we need to consider where and when a digital product will be used in the physical world. For us here at Happy that may be a website or an app for example, in what situation will it be used?

Empathy – we need to understand the humans we are designing for. For example, we may want to create a really cool app with all kinds of complex functionality, but if the end users are technophobes then in reality we need to design something simplistic and easy to use; really focusing on the user experience.

Magic – technology is our magic wand. We can use this to enchant familiar objects and really wow the end user. This can be something as simple as a personalised email or piece of direct mail using your actual name, or seeing an ad for that play you were just looking at appear on a news website you’re browsing later that day.

Their invention aimed at an older generation of mobile phone users ticked all these boxes:

The conference was wrapped up with ‘Nerdcore Comic’ James Veitch, who had us all in stitches with tales of his interactions with online scammers that have formed the basis of a popular TED talk and a 2014 Edinburgh Fringe show.

If you have a spare 10 minutes, take a look – you’ll be crying with laughter for sure!

John Filmer is an Account Manager and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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Thoughts from Thinking Digital…
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