Monday, July 18, 2011

Big Design Conference 2011 Recap

Once again I find myself writing a conference recap without notes. Let me go ahead and apologize to all the speakers just in case I leave out something or misunderstood their presentation.

So…this year’s conference wasn’t as good as last year’s to me. I think there are a few reasons…

1. No free donuts (even though I didn’t care for the orange topping last year…I still liked them…I mean, they’re donuts)

2. No free sodas and snacks between sessions. These are important for any successful conference in my opinion :)

3. It wasn’t all new to me…I knew more of what to expect and what people were going to talk about…not the case last year.

As for the presentations, I’m unsure if they were the same or not as good because I lost perspective as a non-conf-rook. Everything last year was new and fresh and this year, not so much. This year’s conference theme was more about all your customer experiences meshing into one big great customer experience via whatever outlet…last year there seemed to be more of a theme on how to leverage the social web. Anyhow, if you’d like to read that recap you can here.

Day 1:

  • Keynote by Gwen Harmon (@ncrmuseum)
    What I took away…
    • Emotional design makes the whole experience almost life haltering, even if temporarily.
    • The National Civil Rights Museum looks like an amazing place to go visit.
    • Engineers are honest to the point of their own death. I had never heard this joke, it was funny.
      • The Joke: an engineer, a lawyer, and a something else(should’ve taken notes) are all on death row via guillotine. The something else is up, they release the blade and it stops…so he’s let off…the lawyer gets up there the blade drops and it stops again…so he’s let off…the engineer has his turn and looks up and says oh I see your problem.
    • The National Civil Rights Museum is looking to do a lot of upgrades, which will make it even more appealing to visit and learn. You can donate now if you’d like to help.
  • Mobile Design at the Speed of Thought by Michael Griffith @crypticdevice
    Prezi Show
    What I took away…
    • Two ways to communicate – talking & drawing (i.e. not reading requirements)
    • Ideas are disposable…we’ll make more!
    • Downloaded the 106 & Park iPhone app. Played with the voting “game”…highest thus far…30 votes
    • Don’t turn a website into an app! An app is a companion to a website.
    • Buy this book…Understanding Comics The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
      Also…I bought this book…and 5 others…stupid conference making me spend $
  • Designing a Cohesive Customer Experience by Elizabeth Rosenzweig (@elizrosenzweig) and Scott Gunter
    What I took away…
    • Get to sessions on time because standing for an hour kinda sucks
    • With that said, I know they were talking a lot about Ikea…but I missed most of that part…
    • Don’t shop at Pottery Barn because they will stalk you…at least one of the audience members made it sound this way…I believe it
    • Apparently we are capable of cloaking something for 3 nano seconds according to Elizabeth via MSNBC. Read more here if you wish
    • The jist of this one was to make all of your customer experiences aware of each other…if I create a shopping list on and it knows which store I shop at…give me my list on my phone by aisle and sort it based on location so I don’t do 18 laps around the store…seriously they should do this…
  • Free Your Mind: Using UX Checklists to Focus on What's Important by Elisa Miller (@elisakm)
    Download Slide Deck
    What I took away…
    • Make good checklists
    • Buy this book - The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. (Recommended in more than one presentation I attended)
    • I actually started making quite a few checklists today…the most important: Post-Deployment Review Checklist for applications team
  • Forget your MBA: Managing in a Creative Culture by Marcelo Somers (@marcelosomers)
    Download Slide Deck
    What I took away…
    • He’s a finance geek and a machead
    • Companies are alive and they don’t live very long
    • Focus on a few things and do them better than anyone else…Chipotle was his example
    • The market changes…either change with it or die
  • Designing for Disabilities by Sharron Rush (@sharrush)
    What I would’ve taken away…
    • I’ll admit it…I went for a nap over another session…HOWEVER, I would’ve gone to this one. I did stop by their booth because I plan to participate in their airhouston event in October and was looking for more info. I went to her session last year and it was very eye opening. Seriously, I literally just read the description and am very sorry I missed this one. (Sure wish the description had been on some form of program rather than a print out with titles…hint hint!)
  • Closing Keynote by Russ Unger (who needs no introduction apparently, but gets one anyhow cause he’s special) (@russu)
    What I took away…
    • Russ is very happy. (last year he was angry so whatever he’s doing is working apparently)
    • Russ is writing another book with Todd Zaki Warfel. Guerrilla UX Research Methods released November 15, 2011 according to
    • Russ is still funny.
    • Russ grew a “Texas” mustache just for us
    • Russ thinks we should adopt Ice UX Framework…
      • stop collaborate and listen
      • anything less than the best is a felony
      • quick to the point to the point no faking
      • and there may have been others
    • Russ likes a cat named Maru that gets into small boxes…the cat is funny
    • Russ doesn’t know what he does for a living…or maybe people that he is close to don’t know…I don’t remember if he ever actually said
    • Russ is excited to see what we do…I’m curious and a little excited too :)

Day 2:

  • Opening Keynote by Josh Clark (@globalmoxie)
    • I slept in due to lack of description. I need to know what I’m waking up for :)
  • Accelerated Style Sheets: Less Typing, More Style by Wynn Netherland (@pengwynn) and Nathan Smith (@nathansmith)
    • Intended to go to this, but was caught up with packing and checking out of my room
  • Designing for Change and Innovation by Sara Summers (@sarasummers)
    What I took away…
    • She wrote a book. I was going to buy it, but then I saw it was using Expression Blend…
    • Use your conference waiting time to ask people about ideas you have
    • Make a feedback area in the blank walls of the surrounding cubes
    • Walk the dog to think or actually just make time to think – I actually did that this morning on my way into work. I have a 45 minute commute and left the radio off so I could think…it was nice to talk to me.
  • Innovation: Ideas are Just the Beginning by Adam Polansky (@adamtheia)
    Download Slide Deck
    What I took away…
    • An extra 30 minutes to look around…he was a bit quick
    • Innovation = New Combinations (i.e. guy driving thinks “I like listening to radio”…”HEY NOW! I should add a radio in my car!”)
    • Create a list of small bug fixes that can be fixed on your own time…present them…they’ll probably get added to the project list
  • Slay the Legacy Code Beast by Caleb Jenkins (@calebjenkins)
    Download Slide Deck
    What I took away…
    • Caleb is here to help.
    • Caleb looks and talks a LOT like Dane Cook (I think Caleb might be funnier)
    • Caleb references presentations from a year ago (I should’ve gone I guess)
    • Caleb likes to ROOOOAAARRR (or just make monster noises…not sure how to spell what he was doing) and he enjoys audience participation
    • Caleb once worked on a solution with over 68 projects…I think I woulda quit
    • Here’s the jist:
      • Know Your Foe (Legacy Code)
        • Don’t go changing stuff willy nilly
        • Use dependency graphs
      • Create a Safety Net
        • Use Source Control
        • Create Tests
      • Divide and Conquer (pick your battles)
        • The doesn’t do his presentation justice…I mean there was a really nifty split of the screen for this 3rd strategy announcement during his live presentation…it was truly amazing.
    • Caleb will give you credit if he takes one of your pics from flickr…good to know
    • I really enjoyed Caleb’s talk even though I don’t have every day battles with legacy monsters
  • Designing for Awareness by Brian Sullivan (@BrianKSullivan) and Taylor Cowan (@tcowan)
    Download Slide Deck
    What I took away…
    • Attention = Focus
    • Distraction = Disorder
    • Information’s price is attention…don’t be poor on attention
    • Two types of attention…active and passive
    • Do you multi-task? No you don’t.
    • Checklists mentioned again
    • Interruption vs Notification – Very important in design
      • Interruption = Active Awareness (i.e. alert(‘Hey there!’);)
        • Only in emergency or dire situation
      • Notifications = Passive Awareness (i.e. $(‘#thissmallredsquarenotification’).show();)
    • We process 400 billion bits of data per second passively
      • A lot less actively…2,000
  • Progressive Prototyping with HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery by Todd Zaki Warfel (@zakiwarfel)
    Download Slide Deck
    What I took away…
    • Todd likes to cook
    • Todd makes grayscale look sexy
    • Todd does not wireframe…I still do…I prototype too…mostly I wireframe to help me visualize the markup and gen the graphics
      • Todd does this via sketches…I’m not that good
      • I wonder what kind of markers he uses because they look like some awesome colors on his slideshow
    • Todd prefers to fail in a low cost environment…imagine that…
    • Todd lays out the data first…then he styles
    • Todd bragged a lot about not having a single image on his grayscale and it still looking “sexy”
    • Todd then went on about the awesomeness of HTML5
      • Specifically the progress and meter tags, which are pretty freakin sweet
    • Todd gave a heads up about updating your reset.css…I’m glad he did because I have not
    • Todd provides great coverage of CSS3 Selectors…I’ll let you look at his deck…same with his jQuery coverage
    • Todd wrote a book and is working on the one mentioned earlier with Russ Unger…I bought the Prototyping book and am reading it now
  • Mobile & UX by Jared Spool
    Download Slide Deck…OH wait I haven’t received it via email yet…hopefully I emailed them correctly and will get it soon and hopefully I can get permission to share…if not…you shoulda been there :)
    What I took away…
    • Jared is flippin smart.
    • Jared is great at teaching and entertaining…not once did I think, “hey! I’m learning a lot” (I did though)
      • Sturgeon’s Law – 90% of everything is crap. Are you in the 10%?
      • Technology » Features » Experience
        • Jared realizes on an example here that his audience is a young one
      • The Kano Model
        • User Satisfaction by Company Investment
        • Must meet basic expectations (BEs) before excitement generators work
          • When BEs don’t work, you’re just pissing people off
          • With time, delighters become BEs
      • There were 3 questions to see how well formed your team is…but I don’t remember them. Hopefully I get that slide deck soon :)
        What I remember…
        • the vision of the team and their experience with your design
        • how long you spend watching your’s or your competitor’s design
        • have you rewarded failure
    • We are in an immature era, we are learning and the next few years are going to be very exciting and a bit scary if you like your privacy. Seriously…scary.

Books Bought Due to Conference:

Other Stuff

Suggestions for next year

  1. Printed programs with full descriptions of presentations and speakers
  2. Donuts
  3. Snacks
  4. Sodas
  5. Casino night that I know about at least a day or two before the night actually occurs…I would’ve loved to shoot some craps
  6. Donuts
  7. Maybe some bacon??

That about does it. I enjoyed the conference and I’m excited about the user experiences I’ll be creating in the next year. Look forward to next year’s event!

Thanks for reading!

kick it on

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