Last week I had the privilege of attending my first SXSW. Overall I'd say it was a good experience, though I wish I was more of an go-chat-it-up-with-anyone kinda girl. I tend to stick with the people I know, and SXSW is definitely a place I'd have liked to branch out.
Unfortunately, due to a family matter I had to attend to in CT, I didn't arrive in Austin until Sunday, and the rest of the team was already in the SXSW groove. I quickly dropped my bags at the Integrum house and hustled over to the convention center. I was there just in time to pick up my badge and grab a seat in the 3:30pm session. I made it to two sessions on Sunday, and here's my synopsis of them.
Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users, by Kathy Sierra
There are several other people who have posted notes on this talk, so I won't be too redundant. I think she made a lot of good points, but in general, the gist was that you should not be worried about whether or not you kick ass. You should be worried about how to make your users feel like they kick ass. It makes almost too much sense; if your app makes people feel like rock stars, they are sure to keep coming back.
LOLWUT? Why Do I Keep Coming Back to This Website?, by Ben Huh and Eric Nakagawa
There isn't too much to say about this session other than that these guys are hilarious. When Eric Nakagawa leaned into the microphone to begin the session and said, "Oh Hai," I knew it was going to be good. They basically just summed up their journey since the beginning of icanhascheezeburger. I was dissappointed, however, that I didn't get my hands on one of the cheeseburgers they provided for the audience. Shucks. kthxbye.
Sunday night I went geekbowling with some integremlins, and then hit the hay so I could squeeze in a full day of sessions on Monday.
The Art of Self-Branding, by Lea Alcantara
I was expecting to get a little more out of this session. Lea Alcantara used two companies as examples for a talk about self-branding. Then when asked for examples of individuals who have branded themselves well, she said, "Madonna." With no disrespect to The Immaculate Collection, I thought this was an irrelevant answer considering the audience. She did give some useful information though, including her 5 aspects of a successful brand:
- Relevance: Do you make sense?
- Creative Design: Does your look match?
- Message Communication: Do you talk the talk?
- Understanding Customer: Do you know who you're talking to?
- Consistency: Can we expect the same quality in everything you say/touch/do?
She also said, "Talent is not enough, perception is almost everything." Which I wish weren't true, but I totally agree with.
I don't have much to say about the rest of the sessions I went to on Monday, except that I am still trying to write my six-word memoir. Maybe I'll post it here when I come up with it. :)
Monday night I attended the Facebook party with Chris and Matt, but no sign of Zuckerberg. :(
Tuesday morning I skipped out on some sessions to visit the office of Red Fly Studios, since Erica has a friend (Kris) that works there. The office was super nice, and they even let us play around with a game they are working on! Thanks to the guys at Red Fly Studios for giving us a peek into the game industry. After lunch, a couple of sessions were worth mentioning:
Creative Collaboration: Building Web Apps Together, by Paul Hammond, Simon Willison, George Oates, Matt Biddulph, and Dave Shea
I really enjoyed this panel. It was so interesting to hear people (developers and designers) from different types of companies talk about collaboration. What I got out of this panel:
- Technical Wife/Design Husband - it should be a partnership.
- Decisions should be made together and with reason.
- White-boarding sessions, including designers and developers should happen early in a project and often.
Taking Over the World: the Flickr Way, by Simon Batistoni
This was a really interesting talk for me, since I've been working with internationalizing a project for quite some time now. Many of the things Simon learned while internationalizing flickr, we at Integrum have also learned on a client project of ours. It was almost refreshing to hear that someone else has gone through the same pains of internationalizing an app. I won't go through all the details of what to do, but he said his presentation would be posted here. (Not there yet, but hopefully soon.)
And then, after eating dinner and making brief appearance at the Digg party, my SXSW experience came to a close. Overall, I had fun and I learned a few things. Phew! This was longer than I thought it'd be, thanks for sticking it out. Cheers. :)