How To Be A Producer Of An Anti-Reality TV Show
The Real World on MTV was, as far as I'm concerned, the first reality tv show. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_television to fuel your disagreement with me.)
Remember Puck on The Real World? Yeah, that was chaos. The conditions were ripe for chaos. Have you seen a Real Housewives episode lately? Chaos. Produced chaos. Those shows are entertaining in an entirely unwholesome way. They are engaging for rubberneck reasons. You can't turn your head away from the car wreck. That's fine. We can't always be on. Sometimes we need to turn off our brains and just blow off some steam.
Your website is another matter. In a reality tv show, the producer wants drama, chaos. As you maintain your website from day to day you want boring. You want reliability. You want a system that attracts your ideal customer, ushers them through a smooth, frictionless sales process, and supports them once the sale is complete. It should all be boring.
Maybe the word boring throws you off. After all, you do want your website to be creative, innovative, novel. But you also want to keep your attention on creating the conditions for harmony rather than discord.
It's ironic in the web development industry that you want at least 2 kinds of web producers. On the one hand, you want the highly creative, visionary marketing team to generate out of the box ideas and campaigns. On the other hand, you want a web support and management team to maintain a stable foundation, one that addresses the Web Reliability problem head-on.
The Producer of Reliability
One of the most interesting things about my research lately has been to recognize how big of a role creativity plays in achieving 'boring'; in achieving a reliable website. Seeing into the future and anticipating reliability problems before they arise is a creative act. Cultivating the kinds of conversations and interactions that uncover reliability problems is a creative act. Presenting problems along with solutions in order to achieve reliability is a creative act. Problem-solving issues on the fly when reliability has failed is a creative act.
The Creatives: A Myth
Myth: In web agencies these days 'The Creatives' are the ones who deliver layered Sketch files. They're not the ones who cut the designs up and build the actual working thing. Myth: 'The Creatives' develop a marketing strategy, they don’t execute it. These statements are of course erroneous. Some of the most creative problem solvers on the web team solve for future-facing problems. If you have ever heard a developer ask, "What's your biggest traffic spike like, and when does it happen?" You're hearing someone creatively probing the future and nipping a reliability problem in the bud. This developer is creating the conditions for boring and you're glad she is. She's about to build you something that you'll be able to forget about while you focus on other problems.
Expect a new reality
The reality of your day-to-day website shouldn’t be like the fabricated “reality” of a TV show. If you’ve come to expect unpredictability and drama it’s time to readjust your expectations.
The authentic reality of a truly reliable website would and should make for terrible TV. It wouldn’t even make good “slow TV.” (Leave that to those trains through the Northwest or the Yule Log for the holidays). In fact, a really well-maintained, reliable website should be hard-pressed to fill a 30-minute weekly call. So, here’s to working to be creatively boring.