There is this gem of a conference that happens every year in Wellington, New Zealand at the end of February it’s – Webstock. Now I have been hearing about it time and time again and how amazing it is.
However I hear that about a lot of conference, to often they don’t live up to the hype. You attend and they just let you down with the corporatisation.
Webstock for me is just at the wrong end of the year, being post Christmas, you have to make the decision to go in the quiet period of January when money can be tight. Hence I usually miss Webstock.
This year was different, this year it all came together and I finally got to attend Webstock.
The following is my sketchnotes and views on the talks and conference in general.
Frank Chimero – Digital Campfire
I attended a pre conference workshop with Frank, he struck me as a talented, young designer, if not a little shy. For some reason I just didn’t join the dots as to who Frank was or his kickstarter project – The Shape of Design (which I contributed too).
Yeah it does happen, sadly too many times of late. As you know I’m not that big on following designers, or wank sites like dribbble. So Frank was off the radar. Still Frank was, down to earth, honest and a generally nice guy.
His talk was a perfect starter for Webstock. Frank projected the web to just be stories and storytelling and prompted us all to just make the stories wonderful, hijack the format and take the content from the cold corporate nightmares to the warmth of the campfire stories.
Michael Koziarski – Planet Webstock
Michael is local Wellington Ruby developer, and a core Rails team member, something, again I was totally unaware of.
Michael had a simple message, it’s not hard to make coding fun, there are just a few simple rules that you have to follow.
Follow the rules and maybe you can avoid the 83.8% project failure rate! In summary – use small teams, hire top talent, use best technology, use most suitable technology, iterate and ship small items.
Christine Perfetti – Adventurous Usability Techniques: Novel Approaches for the Seasoned Pro
I know of Christine Perfetti, I was a little wary of this talk, as too often of late UX or Usability talks have provided no new content for me. I suspected Christines would be the same. However for non UX people this talk would have been gold, as I expected it to be.
The talk gave a good summary of 5 techniques that can help any team with usability issues. The kicker was simple – “Go out and make your team watch real users”.
Mark Pilgrim – The Future of the Web: where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?
Mark’s talk on the Future of the Web was a very lighthearted approach to the future of front end development areas for the web. He rolled off the features HTML5 and its groupies after giving as a whirlwind history of HTML.
No new information here for me, but it did make me think about the way we do things and allow legacy technology to hold us back. Mind you I noted he didn’t mention ARIA elements causing screen reader issues when used with HTML5 with Internet Explorer. Still it was an entertaining talk.
Jason Webley – Portrait of an Artist as an Independent Musician
Jason Webley is a musician from Seattle. He does everything, he has no support staff, no signed label, no contract, no manager. He is the modern basis for the old school wandering bard.
I have a lot of time for people like Jason who have taken to independent road and are reshaping the music industry one step at a time.
Jason was an inspiration, with his can do attitude and willingness to rely on his online community most of the time to support or assist him. This was frankly refreshing, honest and humbling. He’s touring Australia at the moment, sadly I miss his Perth gig.
Jason Santa Maria – On Web Typography
His talk on typography ran over the basics with an undercurrent to practically choosing a good font. Things like looking at the overall section of text as a whole, not using pre styled (baked) typefaces, look at the contrast of design and the quality of the type.
It was a pleasant reminder that type like content is critical component to the overall experience on a site.
Kristina Halvorson – Content/Communication
Her talk was very assuming in that like Frank Chimero’s talk it centred its theme on Wall-e. Basically she discussed that we don’t look at the content early enough in our design/development process, and that we are forgetting that content is very critical in the process.
And yet we still product mountains of crappy content online. Mainly because we have no content strategy. I totally agree with Kristina.
John Gruber – The Gap Theory of UI Design
John Gruber, I’m told is a bit of a legendary blogger.
Okay that automatically puts him off my radar, not one to follow the fanboi sheep. So I wasn’t expected much from John at all.
Well I was surprised, his talk was upbeat and discussed the ‘Fear of Change’ that can occur in User Interface development, with direct references to Apple’s OS interface design.
He showed have having rules is good, but in reality you need to break those rules to move forward and bring creativity back into your design.
Doug Bowman – Delivering Delight
It’s interesting sometimes you know exactly what a speaker is going to talk about before they do it.
Doug’s talk was just like that, it was a well delivered professional talk, the core was all about moving beyond usability and designing to delight people, making change easy to cope with and by delivering a delightful experience turning your customers into passionate advocates.
By this stage I was all sketchnoted out. So sorry Amanda no sketchnote for you.
That said Amanda presented a welcomingly honest and thought provoking talk on the realistic state and direction of the music industry. Which is undergoing a dramatic leveling of the artists status.
Amanda dreamed of a way to make it easy to pay for things over the web, as easy as dropping a coin into a buskers hat. Like Jason I have a lot of time for trailblazers like Amanda that are bringing the music back to the people and away from the corporate labels.
So ended Webstock Day One, but wait there is more goodness continued with Webstock 2011 Day Two.