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What are the top trends in digital? Digital is a constantly evolving sector and we work tirelessly to stay at the leading edge. Our innovation and foresighting research allows us to identify breaking trends that are having an impact right now.
If you want to know more about trends as they emerge and develop, follow us on social media and comment on our postings. You may like to come to our panel discussions in Toronto that we host with top thought leaders from industry and research. We’d love to hear from you.
Organisations are using the consumer’s smartphone App model and adopting a curated set of web services in the workplace. A modern enterprise solution is often a collection of cloud-based applications that communicate together through APIs and give an organisation a coherent, fast, affordable digital ecosystem.
There is no point paying for massive, monolithic software solutions with huge service fees anymore. You don’t need a million dollar solution from Oracle or SAP anymore. A lot of the software is free or very affordable and App versions are often included. Even social media can be added: for example Workplace by Facebook, and Slack. Employees often know how to use the Apps since they are generally intuitive or already familiar as consumer versions so a fortune can also be saved with training costs.
Government initiatives around the world are cramming computer coding skills into the curriculum these days. That way we can all get ahead and migrate our economies from rust belt businesses to high-margin digital, yes? Well, actually no. Firstly, some of the learning tools are atrocious and likely to put off most kids who are only marginally interested in coding. Ever tried using Scratch? It’s dull. Secondly, the world doesn’t need pure coders. The world needs amazing software engineers with innovation skills. Technical prowess alone does not ensure success in the market.
Our future coders need to be market-savvy innovators. This can be the difference between a great software engineer and an amazing one. A start-up may have the luxury of a multidisciplinary team at launch, but more likely it is a couple of friends who met at college and want to give it a go. Those friends will be building the Web App, figuring out how to integrate ecommerce, finding an audience and making some money.
Don’t forget that the App was an accident in the first place. The App came about after the iPhone 1 was hacked illegally and new applications were dropped into it. Apple figured out this was a neat idea and the App Store was born. But now the App idea may have run its course. Here’s why. Firstly, a saturated market is killing the App. The average use of a downloaded App is just 1.1 times. Secondly, web sites have evolved away from desktop-browser designs that need lots of zooming and scrolling on a smartphone.
In the last few years we got responsive or liquid Web Apps that reconfigured for smaller screens and now we’re starting to see progressive or scalable Web Apps that work on every browser and every screen size or form factor. These modern Web Apps run from a single code base which is a third reason Apps are dying: nobody wants to maintain loads of code bases to cope with all the native versions of the operating systems. It’s not just about iOS versus Android, there are 11 versions of Android out there and the most recent four versions of Android have under 75% of the market.
The web is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. It is a great knowledge base and we can barely comprehend the size of the thing. Around 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data were created in 2016 which is equivalent to 250,000 Libraries of Congress. The problem is that the information held on the web varies from highly accurate to outright lies.
With the growing dominance of instant live feeds and messaging, the verification of information that goes global rarely happens until well after it has been digested by a chunk of the 40% of the world’s population that is connected. Correcting untruths requires way more effort than spreading them in the first place.. and sometimes the damage can’t be undone.
Remember “Microserfs” and we how we laughed at the way Douglas Copeland described the hideous corporate culture of brain washing and pettiness among staff at a thinly disguised fictional Microsoft? This would never happen in our own loft-style open plan hipster businesses, where we sip our soy decaff lattés and ponder the salad of the month in the free canteen. And yet.. in the digital gold rush, staff are hired or stolen from other businesses because of what they can do today and their current experience. They get slotted into teams and produce. But where and how do the staff continue their learning journey? A learning organisation gives this a top priority.
Making wellness Apps that are entertaining and effective will do a lot for our health. The glitch is that most wellness Apps are just no fun and this makes the repeated use of wellness Apps very low, often the worst among all App categories. But fix this and you have the inappropriately termed new killer Apps. Nice theory maybe, but how to go about this?
The trillion dollar health care industry produces drugs and treatments for sick people. That makes sense. But think about this for a moment: did you know that 95% of people are actually sick each year? Helping people to stay healthy is way more desirable and cost effective than treating them once they get sick. There are preventative drugs and screening for future illnesses, but a lot of staying in good health is about lifestyle, wellbeing, contentment and even happiness. It’s kind of obvious and the right to the pursuit of happiness is even written into the US constitution.
Our process is both technical and creative. We typically engage with our clients and their customers on a continuous basis throughout the course of any project.
The key steps of our design process are:
Straightforward? It looks neat as a list of stages but in reality there are many iterations and changes that take place during any development project and stages can be revisited. It is important to ensure flexibility during the project to avoid getting stuck down a path that isn't working well.
At the same time, an iterative approach has to be balanced against the client's resources and timescale. We have many years' experience getting this balance right and providing rewarding and successful outcomes for clients and their customers.
Unlike many developers, we don't generally create lots of non-working wireframe mockups which can misleadingly be called prototypes. Instead, we build light versions of any digital product or service, with enough working parts to allow deep evaluation by clients or their customers. This also keeps the design fluid and integrates the technical and creative elements.
We know that great user interfaces come from great approaches to coding and these feed off each other. This is in contrast to an over-the-wall approach, where a creative dumps a design onto the desk of an engineer.
Once we have a product, user testing, evaluation and revisions are a key stage. We also have experience of many models for launching a product and we can advise clients on how best to bring a product or service into the marketplace, evaluate it, grow an audience and plan for future releases.
We take the Agile approach to project management, in which cross-functioning teams are responsive and collaborative. Agile advocates:
This contrasts with a more traditional sequential, discipline-based approach. The result is better and faster solutions.
In addition, Scrum is an Agile framework that we have adopted for all our work. Scrum has five values: focus, courage, openness, commitment, and respect.
Everybody is familiar with the blizzard of Post-It notes that a brainstorm can produce. This can be fun, but how is anything then sorted into something that makes sense? We adopt best practice tools and we also use unique tools that we have designed ourselves. We don't have all the answers, so we are constantly working on new tools, often in collaboration with clients.
Our Marketplace Casino tool combines brainstorming with a simulation to see how competitive ideas might be in the marketplace before wasting time on implementation.
We quickly format early stage ideas into concrete models using Unified Modelling Language Diagrams (UML) for:
These can be understood and discussed by both creatives and software engineers, so they act as a multidisciplinary bridge and greatly assist and inform decision making. The commitment to develop a design is a major step and we want to get it right with you.
We use a lot of techniques to make sure we are getting it right for users. These include:
Effective use of user techniques requires a lot of research experience. It is one part of the design puzzle that provides valuable insights if done well. Fortunately we have been doing this for many years.
Our pack of good advice was developed to help start-ups get to grips with the complexities of doing everything at once. The advice is packaged into a deck of cards and it is an example of how we use gamificaion and visual design as part of our engagement with clients.
Tom is an internationally acclaimed thought leader in design, digital technology and enterprise . His diverse and groundbreaking work has included the London Eye ferris wheel capsules and boarding system, the world’s first Bluetooth headset, projects with the late architect Zaha Hadid, and a Turner Prize shortlisted collaboration for an interactive 3D digital artwork. Throughout his 28 year career Tom has been recognized for his innovative works by prestigious institutions including the 1851 Royal Commission, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for a winning collaboration, and the Saatchi and Saatchi media awards.+
Lee is a business development and marketing professional with over 25 years of experience helping charitable organizations and corporations grow and diversify through strategic marketing and fundraising initiatives, brand development, building corporate partnerships, and innovative approaches to social media. From 1996 to 2012, Lee was President of RHA-RMS, a $9M marketing and sponsorship agency. She focused on delivering successful fund development, marketing, brand building, and partnership programs for over 70 corporations and charities.+
George is a recognized creative leader with over 27 years of experience successfully creating and selling ideas, motivating and inspiring others, and driving business results. He has expertise in creative direction, branding, graphic design, and digital media. George has worked extensively in the advertising and design business with disciplines in branding, industrial design, and graphic design.+
Marshall is a big-picture thinker with many years of experience in corporations, working as a mangement consultant and running his own accounting business. He contributes financial analysis and planning expertise to our clients projects, leading the development and analysis of digital business strategies, models and monetisation.
Marshall also has oversight of the financial side of the business, undertaking long term planning and setting the commercial agenda for Six Trends.
Once satirized in a novel as a producer of something but nobody knows what exactly, Patrick Crowe has been generating genuinely ground breaking digital media for twenty years now! A two-time Emmy Award winning producer, writer and filmmaker Patrick first worked with the NFB and a lot of crusty documentarians while making his own quirky films. While at dot com diva ExtendMedia he was named Producer of the Year 2000 for launching Canada’s first interactive TV drama.+
Nick Puckett is focused on creating dynamic links between software and the real world, using the internet of things, robotics, and material behavior for the design of intelligent environments. Nick is currently also Chair of the Digital Futures at the Ontario College of Art and Design.+
Ramtin's main field of Human Factors research is on simulation systems, modeling and human performance. He is a professor at Sheridan College and PhD Candidate of Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Advanced Interface Design Lab.+
Megan Elliott is an internationally recognized thought leader in digital media and the founding director of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. She was previously the manager of leadership and community connections at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia and former director and CEO of digital media think-tank X Media Lab.+
Jacqueline is a passionate marketing, communications, and digital media expert. She combines the best of the creative and the corporate worlds and has a track record of success in translating customer engagement into business wins across the board. In her role as the Director of Marketing at EARIN AB, a Swedish start-up, she is focused on disrupting hearable technologies.+
Brendan is the founder and director of X-Media Lab. X Media Lab brings outstanding international mentors to work with local companies on their own creative digital media ideas across entertainment, education, information, communications and the arts.+
Zach is a freelance designer and instructor. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design & Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and an MFA in Curatorial Practice from OCAD University where he teaches sessionally in Integrated Media and Graphic Design.+
Lloyd Gray is a Freelance UX Designer and Information Architect. He is a graduate of the Digital Futures program at OCAD University and Humber College’s Industrial Design program. He has been in the field since 1994, and has worked on projects for a varied list of companies including General Motors, YTV and Scotiabank.+
Natasha is experienced in the television and film industry, with a decade of success in art direction, brand design management, project management and pre/post production. Her work includes award-winning brands ESPN SportsCenter, College Gameday, SportsNation and Star TV’s Star Sports Network and Hotstar Digital. She is completing an MDes in Digital Futures at OCAD University in Toronto with a focus on disruptive digital innovation and technology.
Peter is a next-gen media creative, providing multimedia and digital marketing solutions to 21st century business needs. Staying ahead of trends and keeping up with technology propels him forward. Peter has a degree from Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program. In the past working for Accessible Media Inc. and with a firm grasp of all things media, he was one of the key operators in launching Canada 360 on SririusXM.
Claire Leslie has skills in mobile and cross platform applications. She is a lover of tech and of puzzles of all varieties. She graduated from the Bitmaker Web Development program and has a degree in Social Work from McGill University. She enjoys combining her community work with her passion for tech and creativity. When not working, Claire can often be found catching up on her queue of various unplayed podcast episodes.
Scarlet is our energetic teenager and occasional intern. She keeps us up to speed with what is hot and what is not in the world of Apps, games, social media and music – oh, and in education! Trying to figure out what makes generation Z kids tick is impossible without a real one to provide us with valuable insights, and Scarlet does this with style!
Six Trends Inc. is highly experienced and hugely committed to education at all levels for people in all kinds situations, including:
We have expertise in multiple delivery formats: online, hybrid, classroom and studio based, workshops, masterclasses and hackathons. Our team has extensive links with education and most of our Senior Associates and Associates teach at University level in some capacity alongside their successful careers in the digital industry.
We consult widely with clients, instutions and communities at the start of any new project. The approach is one of co-design with our stakeholders, ensuring that a learning program is perfectly aligned to to needs.
The team also publishes widely. Look out for "Build Web Apps: The Complete Responsive Web and Mobile Guide. Concept design, coding, distribution & monetization: everything you need to create cross-platform mobile Web Apps” by Tom Barker, due for publication in 2018.
We have a world class team of trainers with expertise covering every aspect of digital from strategy to process and skills.
Our work is award winning. In 2014, Six Trends' Tom Barker received a WOW! Top Training Program award for Excellence from the Canadian Society for Training and Development. It recognized his work at OCAD University for TVO Broadcasting on its ongoing Digital Training program as a new idea in the training and development marketplace.
Our approach to training and uses needs-based assessment methods that ensure a tailored program is created for our clients, whether this is a largescale retraining exercise in a corporation or a small community initiative. We have created online tools that allow us to evaluate each participant for their needs and recommend courses or workshops to bridge skills and knowledge gaps.
Our techniques allow an organisation to receive quantitative and qualitative data on the learning success for every participant at the end of a training program. This is achieved through online questionnaires, analysis and feedback as well as formal assessment.
The slideshow of images at the top of this page show part of the deck of courses that was developed as part of the comprehensive digital training package created for TVO Broadcasting.
We are great at training because we are a dedicated learning organisation ourselves. We extensively mentor and train our staff to train better, to stay ahead of technology and to explore new development methods. Staff participate in research and collaborations with universities, and attend and present at conferences around the world.
Have a look at some of our project movies and collaborations, as well as work in education.
Most of the time we make Web Apps not native Apps. Why make a Web App instead of a native App? Web Apps give you the option of a single code base that creates all of your digital presence across every device, every browser, every screen size and every operating system.Scroll down to the bottom of the screen to try our Expiry Dates Web App and find out how long you have left to live!
We specialise in Scalable Web Apps, which are sometimes called Progressive Web Apps. Our Web Apps have one URL for multiple pages, which is called a 'single page' approach. This allows the Web App to behave exactly like a native App in most cases. Our Web Apps adjust to fit on any screen size and orientation. This is a big step beyond responsive web sites which still need a lot of custom code and layout design for different display sizes and orientations. You are in fact looking at a Web App right now that we engineered from scratch.
It takes more time to make a scalable Web App than a standard website and most designers don't have the skills to do it. But the savings are very significant compared with making multiple versions. How so?
Take a look at smart phones alone. There are 5 versions of Android that are currently supported and the most recent four versions have less than 75% of the market. Even Apple supports three versions of iOS right now. Let's ignore Windows phones which currently have a 0.3% market share. If you go for native Apps that means you will have 8 individual native Apps, or two native Apps that dumb down to work on old operating systems, or two native Apps with a lot of custom code that makes things run differently on different version of the operating system. Not good.
Users are increasingly reluctant to download native Apps in a saturated market. When they do, the average number of times the native App gets used is just 1.1 times. Also, don't forget that you still have to make a website for desktops and laptops, and quite possibly tablets for those users who don't use Apps very often.
Ever wondered how long you are going to live? We built a Web App that will tell you this. The Web App is called Expiry Dates and it was launched at Facebook's Toronto offices in June 2017. The user interface is circular and fun, and you can return to it and see how a change of lifestyle helps you to live longer. The project is part of a collaboration with the artist Dennis Kavelman. Dennis is very interesting: he used to be the CFO of RIM, makers of Blackberry phones in the years when it was a smash hit.
When you get to the end of the Expiry Dates Web App, it will ask you to use a QR code to upload your data to our innovative display systems. Sadly, you can't do this: you need to be at one of our shows where we exhibit the rest of the work – go to the video section of this Web App to see a movie about all of this. But you will still find out how long you have to live though, so give the Web App a go.
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