Fastspot works with a lot of wonderful colleges and universities. But sometimes the best thing we can do for them is to try something completely different.

Fastspot does a lot of work in higher education. Websites like the ones we created for Kenyon, Bucknell and Stonehill are testament to the depth of our understanding of academia. It’s a delight to talk every day with potential clients in the .edu space. But I actually believe that one of the best things we can do for these clients is to accept opportunities to work outside higher education.

Higher education, just like a lot of other verticals or industries, can be very insular and referential. There’s a reason that, as one prospective client put it to me recently, it’s easy to spot an .edu site that was built in 2011. Colleges and universities (and sometimes those who serve them) look to peers for ideas and inspiration, and there are certain patterns that start to emerge. At Fastspot, I think we’re respectful of best practices, but also interested in bucking the trends. Hopefully the websites we create don’t look like everything that’s happening in .edu this year. Working both in and outside education ensures that we always have a broader view.

I also believe that humans are constantly making connections between seemingly unrelated experiences, both professionally and personally. If I’m working with an architect on a project in my free time,for example, it doesn’t directly impact business development at Fastspot, but it does start me thinking about what it means to be a client, what it takes to be a good one, and how to guide people through unfamiliar processes. The learning is unexpected, and unexpectedly relevant. The next museum we work with may have different visitor goals than the next university, but I know that what we learn from one can and will inform the other. Both projects will be better for it. How? I can’t say, and that’s kind of the point. Serendipity.

Finally, you know what they say about variety, spice and life. In my experience, the best work comes from a happy creative team. And a happy creative team is one that’s challenged in diverse and unexpected ways. Make no mistake, some of the variety can and does come from the nuance and individuality that exists among clients in a single industry. No two schools are just alike, and identifying and responding to the differences is a big part of our work. But when we broaden the spectrum to a slightly more disparate client set, it enriches our own experience and that’s reflected in the quality of our work. I think we’re better for it, and so are our clients — inside and outside of higher education.


photo: Frank Kovalchek

Share on Twitter or Facebook Published May 6th 2014