WebVisions 2013 in review: Part three

Friday, May 24, 2013

WebVisions 2013 This is a continuation of WebVisions 2013 in review: Part two.

On Wednesday through Friday, May 22-24, I attended the WebVisions Portland 2013 conference at the Oregon Convention Center. Below is a quick overview of all sessions I attended on Friday, with links. See Twitter updates using #wvpdx.

Making Meaningful Design with the Internet of Things – Carla Diana
(9:15 am to 10:00 am | session details)

Something exciting has been happening to our everyday objects. Things that were once silent and static can now sing, glow, buzz and be tracked online. Some are constantly listening for sounds, sights and touches to translate into meaningful inputs. Others have the ability to learn, refining their behaviors over time. They can be connected to one another as well as the Internet.

As people continue to interact with data in all aspects of life, they will expect their digital devices to deliver real-time, visualized, networked feedback. The WSJ envisions a roadmap where 50 billion devices could be connected to the Internet by 2020. Collectively, this “Internet of Things” will provide cloud-enabled experiences that can profoundly change many aspects of everyday life both in and out of the home. As designers, this presents a juicy opportunity to pioneer new territory in rich interaction, but it also can backfire, filling people’s lives with more frustrations over technology than ever before.

In this talk, the presenter will share stories from the front lines of designing interactive hardware/software products and ecosystems in her studio and at the award-winning firm Smart Design. She’ll discuss challenges and highlight opportunities where the combination of physical device and virtual data can provide a more meaningful experience than either alone.

  • Twitter: @carladiana_
  • What is going to be meaningful in the Internet of Things?
  • Sensors: illumination, temperature, ppm, etc.
  • Ninja Blocks, Twine, Karotz (Wifi Interactive Smart Rabbit)
  • Robots with some kind of expression
  • Good Night Lamp, UP band by Jawbone, Vitality GlowCaps, Lively (aging in place)
  • Information overload is never fun
  • Life now, data later
  • Context is everything
  • Communication defines personality
  • Playing nice with others
  • Knowing when to borrow the screen
  • smartinteractionlab.com
  • Things we see

Walt Disney:The World’s First User Experience Designer – Joseph Dickerson
(10:15 am to 11:00 am | session details)

We all know that Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and a world-wide entertainment empire. But did you also know that he could also be considered the world’s first user experience designer?

In this session, Joseph Dickerson, UX Architect and author of the book Experience Matters: Essays, Lessons and Tactics on User Experience Design, details how Disney took exacting care in designing Disneyland, the world’s first fully immersive engineered experience, and how he applied user experience design practices long before there was a formal UX discipline.

With case studies and stories about how Disney created the ground-breaking theme park, Dickerson details how you can “design like Walt did” and apply his best practices to your own projects and teams.

In this session you’ll learn about: The history of Disneyland’s design process, best practices in UX design (that Walt did before any of us), “Mickey’s Ten Commandments” (design principles we can still use today), and more…

  • Twitter: @JosephDickerson
  • Slides: Walt Disney: The World’s First User Experience Designer
  • “Design like Walt Did”
    • Focus on the moment
    • Always be “plussing” (always improving, enhancing, make experiences better)
    • Provide options
    • Details matter (makes it all the more effective, authentic)
    • Fix things that don’t work
    • Take risks (Disney almost lost everything twice: Snow White, Disneyland)
    • Test, refine… then test again
    • Hire smart people
    • Set standards
  • Mickey’s 10 Commandments
    1. Know your audience
    2. Wear your guest’s shoes
    3. Create a “weenie” (rewarding visual indicators/incentives of the experience)
    4. Communicate with visual literacy
    5. Organize the flow of people and ideas
    6. Avoid overload
    7. Tell one story at a time
    8. Avoid contradiction
    9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of fun
    10. Keep it up
  • Cognitive overload is one of the key things that prevents customers from having effective experiences
  • Delight and surprise are a key component of user experience
  • Meet the Robinsons movie
  • “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Just Make It Fun: What Designing For Kids Can Teach Us About User Experience – Debra Gelman
(11:15 am to 12:00 pm | session details)

When designing digital experiences for adults, we focus on the “destination,” making sure our users can complete key tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. When designing for kids, however, we get to focus on the “journey,” and all the adventure and excitement that come from the experience itself.

What if we were able to mix it up a little, and introduce some of these “journey” ideas into our designs for adults to create more interesting experiences? This presentation will identify techniques from designing for kids that we can apply to adult audiences to increase satisfaction and engagement. Specifically, we’ll talk about how kids and adults respond to the following: Conflict, Response, Investment, Action, Flow.

Participants will come away with an understanding of the principles of designing for kids, and techniques for incorporating these principles for adult audiences as well.

  • Twitter: @dgelman
  • When the design for adults, the interface is to achieve a goal. When you design for kids, the interface is the goal.
  • Children reach cognitive maturity at age 12
  • Principles of designing for kids:
  • 1. Conflict
    • Where’s My Water app – physics principles for kids
    • Twitter app
  • 2. Response
    • Toca Hair Salon app
    • Dots app
  • 3. Investment (a little something extra for investing your time: Easter egg)
    • Talking Carl app – dog bone
    • MailChimp – monkey arm stretch
  • 4. Action
    • Seussville.com – compelling constant motion
    • Star Walk – astronomy app
  • 5. Flow
    • Core: choice, progression and achievement
    • Disney’s Sophia the First app – puppet theater
    • Biblion Frankenstein app – multiple information paths
  • Additional websites for adults:
    • Wachovia Bank – beautiful interaction design patterns
    • New York Times news skimmer

Build Your Brand the Rock Star Way – Rafa Soto
(1:30 pm to 2:15 pm | session details)

Most brands spend an insane amount of money in advertising. They read a ton of books on marketing and churn out a ridiculous number of PowerPoint presentations.  As a result, their consumers become more and more skeptical.

Rock Bands on the other hand, despite having never read a single marketing manual in their lives, have die-hard fans, waiting in line for hours in order to catch a glimpse and buy a t-shirt.

WTF? Why does it appear that the distance been the brand and the consumer is getting wider as opposed to narrower? And why is it that advertising appears to be less effective nowadays?

Jack Dixon says: “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” And that’s exactly what’s happening. Today, most of the brands are focused on optimizing results instead of focusing on people.

As a brand, if you think of your clients as consumers, you’ll get consumers. However, if you think of them as fans, you’ll get fans. Right, this really sounds like a, ”duh that’s obvious” kind of a statement. But hopefully, you will get to see some examples and thoughts on how to get fans as opposed to consumers through some really cool ways.

  • Twitter: @RafaSoto
  • Ommwriter – distraction-free writing
  • Brands and bands
  • Paul Simonon, Clash bassist – smashed guitar, iconic poetry
  • Sophistication killed the real connection
  • We think to much (with the left side of the brain)
  • Brands: “I have to have consumers.”
  • Bands: “I want to have fans.”
  • Brands lie to you, interrupt your favorite content, put blinking banners all around, want to make you feel imperfect
  • 70% of brands would not be missed if they suddenly disappear
  • Thinking only in terms of consumers is not profitable anymore
  • ROI (Return of Investment) vs. ROL (Return of Love)
  • If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change you will soon have results.
  • A consumer is not loyal, will not stand up for you, is not always grateful, etc. A fan is loyal.
  • Bands are for real. Sacrifice, content, love, revolution, performance, coherent, creative, passion
  • The difference between doing it and saying it with taglines
  • 9 no-brainers
    • Duh 1. You don’t need multimillion dollar budgets to rock & roll
    • Duh 2. You don’t need to be cool to make rock & roll
    • Duh 3. It gets serious. Then keeping rocking.
    • Duh 4. Rock from day zero.
    • Duh 5. You can’t fake rock & roll
    • Duh 6. Be proud of your shit
    • Duh 7. It’s never too late to start rock & roll
    • Duh 8. Be generous
    • Duh 9. You don’t need a band to play rock & roll
  • You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” – attributed to Winston Churchill
  • Noteography.com

Your CSS is a Mess – Jonathan Snook
(2:30 pm to 3:15 pm | session details)

CSS is easy? CSS is messy! And as a project grows, it only gets messier. You find yourself throwing !important at everything or fighting with long selectors just to get a style to overrule another. This session looks at a few quick tips to help bring things under control.

  • Twitter: @snookca‎
  • Jonathan Snook’s Your CSS is a Mess video presentation at Smashing Conference 2012 in Freiburg, Germany
  • SMACSS – scalable modular CSS
  • 1. Categorization
    • Base – defining what an HTML element looks like on the page by default
    • Layout – the containers for content
    • Modules – content pieces; define what the components look like
    • Sub-modules – handle variations on components (e.g., color changes)
    • Sub-components – like with modal dialogs
    • State
    • Theming
  • The single responsibility principle applied to CSS – states that every module or chunk of code should do one thing and one thing only
  • Categorization is about isolation
  • 2. Naming Convention
    • Naming convention clarifies intent
    • Use class over ID
    • No hyphens – always a root node
    • Hyphens – submodule
    • Underscores – subcomponent
  • 3. Decoupling HTML/CSS
    • Use child selectors to limit the scope of the element
    • Apply a class when the HTML can’t or won’t be predictable — or make the HTML predictable
    • Code it for the system of components, not for the pages
    • State-based design
      • a layout or module style
      • sub-modules
      • JavaScript-driven
      • Pseudo-class states
      • Media query states
  • CSS animations game (no JavaScript): CSS Panic

Startup! Real Stories and Life-Saving Tips:A Panel Discussion with Leading Entrepreneurs, VCs, Angel Investors – Adam Arthur Bier, Kevin Rose, Mamoon Hamid, Gino Zahnd, John Bragg
(3:30 pm to 4:15 pm | session details)

In many ways, it’s never been easier to start a company. Bootstrapping is often a viable choice, but some businesses are almost impossible to launch without capital. There are endless books and blogs from the viewpoint of VCs espousing philosophies about how to raise venture capital, but the actual process from Day One of making the decision to raise money is still a black hole, left to private meetings, phone calls, and known to a relatively small population.

Designers and technologists often have little or no experience dealing with investors, and even learning a new vocabulary to talk with VCs is often the first stumbling block.

Join us for a lively discussion with a veteran panel of entrepreneurs, angel investors and VCs features Kevin Rose (Google Ventures), Mamoon Hamid (The Social+Capital Partnership), Adam Arthur Bier, Gino Zahnd (Cozy, Flickr, Kosmix, Splunk) and John Bragg (Cozy, Kosmix).

In this panel, you’ll learn the crucial information that doesn’t exist in books, blogs, or elsewhere, such as:

  • How do you get started?
  • What sorts of people are the right people to talk to?
  • How do you get meetings with these people?
  • Does no mean no? Silence?
  • What’s the right amount of money?
  • What happens once the VC joins your board?


  • At seed stage, raise enough money to operate for a year. 2-5 people
  • Angel investors (at least one million liquid to qualify): $10-20K, $25-50K
  • VC: $100-150K at seed stage, many millions after
  • People who invest more than $1 million are typically granted a board seat
  • Keep the number of board members odd, and one of them in your favor

The Axe Cop Story: How Two Brothers Created a Massively Popular Online
Comic Series
– Ethan and Malachai Nicolle
(4:30 pm to 5:30 pm | session details)

The Axe Cop saga began on a Christmas holiday when Ethan Nicolle, a 29-year-old comic book artist, and his 5-year-old brother Malachai, came up with an idea for Axe Cop, a gruff, tough police officer who wields an axe to battle bad guys.

The idea developed into a web comic, then was picked up by Dark Horse Comics and now is being made into a Fox/ADHD animated series with Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson of the television series Parks and Rec).

In their keynote address, Ethan and Malachai Nicolle will discuss how Axe Cop developed from an idea into a cult hit, lessons learned from working with a 7-year-old co-conspirator and what is in store for the future. They’ll show clips and take questions.

  • More information: Axe Cop
  • What I learned: Exploiting your younger siblings or children for creative ideas can be an enjoyable and lucrative practice

That is all for WebVisions Portland 2013. In closing, I’d just like to say “user experience,” “making” and … “a splash of value.”

For my notes from previous WebVisions conferences, see 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007.

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