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Just Like Detroit: Web Design Can’t Make You Cool — Only You Can Do That

Ok, so anyone who reads my blog knows by know that I don’t really like to talk about my clients. Which is why, today, I’m going to talk about someone else’s clients. Of course, I’m not going to tell you who; let’s just say it’s someone that I’ve worked with for years. He’s a good guy who has helped me out with some content for some clients of mine, but in this case, it’s one of his clients I’m on about.

Detroit?
Oh, right, these ‘just like Detroit’ web design posts are supposed to start out by talking about Detroit. Let’s get to that part. One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last few years is that there are certain places that you can live in or be from that seem to innately make you ‘cool’. Whether you’re from the mean streets of Compton or your posse has been on Broadway (and you did it your way), there seem to always be people out there willing to rep for their city. Except that Detroit doesn’t really have much of that these days. Being from Detroit is almost more pitiable than anything else, it seems.

The people who live around here that are still ‘cool’, then, are cool because of who they are, not because of where they’re from. They have something about them that stands out all on their own, independent of — or almost in defiance of — where they’re from.

My associate recently had a client come to him and say “We need something we can put out there that will be ‘cool’. Something that will make people see us as ‘cool’.” My friend banged his head on the idea for more than a month before he finally had to concede that it just wasn’t in his power.

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires Be Cool
The problem with a request like that is simple, and I’m going to bring it back around to web design — there’s no amount of cleverness or awesomeness that a web designer (or anyone else, for that matter) can provide that will ever make you cool. Web designers can do a lot for your business. We can make your website easy to use, we can make it memorable, we can even make it load quickly and easily on slow-throughput mobile devices. But cool has to come from you.

If you’re thinking “but my industry is so boring!”, I want to remind you, for at least the seventeenth time, about Dollar Shave Club. If those guys can make cutting tiny hairs off of your face something that people get psyched about, you can do it with party planning, apartment selling, pet grooming, or whatever it is that you do.

I daresay that if you think your industry is boring, you may be in the wrong industry — but that’s not really my place. I’m here to do what web designers do: give your online presence a face that people love to look at and interact with. Cheeks to pinch, as it were. I can do cool things with your website, but if your company is stodgy, it’s going to come off as fake — and believe me, web surfers are immensely sensitive to that sort of thing.

I’m not going to try to school anyone on how to be cool. Again, not my job: if you want to learn how to be cool, go ask someone with more cool to spare than I have. My job is to school you on how to be yourself and successful at the same time, and I’m fully convinced that absolutely anyone can do that. If you’d like to challenge me on that claim, hire me and put my skills to the test.

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