Web Directions 2014 – Day One

As is the norm for this conference: lots of information today. I tend not to take too many notes during keynotes, as these sessions tend to be aspirational/inspirational – and the pragmatic me is looking for stuff I can use now (or soon).

They’re always great – just not overly useful. 

However, Dan Hon dropped a couple of very useful one-liners during his excellent closing keynote today. The main one I’ll take home:

Work from the need backwards

I really like this, on 2 levels:

  1. This is a great way to get clients to focus on their business needs first. All to often, clients come to me with their solutions already (which often are wrong) and I feel this would be a good way to refocus them on what they actually need, not what they think they need.
  2. And then of course, focus in their customer: the user. What are their needs? This will ultimately drive the conversation and the strategy further than point 1 I expect. And obviously lead to a much better, more useful website.

The other standout for me today was Scott Thomas. In speaking about design needing a process, he dropped this:

Don’t be a stylist – solve problems

And then went on to illustrate his team’s creative process when developing a brand. His process itself was fine, but I think the important point here was just to have one. Whatever works for your team and organisation.

The value you bring to the table; the value you offer your clients, is demonstrated in that process.

He had a couple of good ideas:

  • Having clients play cards. They have a set of cards with opposites on each side. (eg one side of a card says “serious”, the reverse says “fun”). Ask client to choose 6 words from the deck that describe them and their organisation. A very neat way of preventing clients asking you for opposites when giving you their brief. “Sorry Jim, it’s one or the other.”
  • Getting to the personality of the organisation. Ask your client, “If your business was a celebrity, who would it be?” Or, “If your business was an animal, which one would it be?” Or any other representation that you can relate to. Otherwise, trying to describe this is hard!
  • The process can help “distract dissent” later in the design phase as well. If, in previous exercises/discussions, your client has chosen “traditional” from the deck of cards to describe themselves (instead of “modern” on the reverse), it’s much hard for them to not like your concepts because “it doesn’t look modern enough”.

They are my highlights from Day One. What were yours?

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