Webstock 2014 was more than just a conference. Thanks in part to its new home at the St James Theatre, the event was more like a stage show designed to make the audience laugh (at Charlie Todd’s improv videos and Derek Sivers' clown costume), cry (at Sha Hwang's somewhat chilling thoughts on the future) and most of all feel filled-to-the-brim with inspiration.
Webstock week is the most inspiring week of the year for many New Zealand designers and developers, and as a marketing designer at Xero (a Webstock sponsor) I’m definitely no exception. I went along to pick up tips and soak up inspiration from the brilliant designers and developers speaking this year. But this open-source era is all about sharing right? So below are five of my takeaways from Webstock 2014.
Learn when to quit
“Sometimes the middle is the end” – Liz Danzico
Liz Danzico told us that sometimes it’s okay (and necessary) to cut your losses and quit a project if you feel that finishing will be of no benefit, or will waste your time and resources. She explained that sometimes you learn enough in the process that you don’t need to continue with a project, and reminded us that there is no shame in moving on to something else.
Share your research
“Data for everyone & everyone’s data” –Aarron Walter
As the director of user experience at MailChimp, Aarron Walter knows a thing or two about how to capture feedback from users. He told us about a process he set up using a script in Gmail to capture user feedback and make it available in Evernote for everyone at the company to contribute to and search, making it a directory of useful information for everyone’s projects.
It’s not always about the numbers
“The answer to which is better is always ‘it depends’” – Erika Hall
Erika Hall spoke about qualitative research and the importance of realising that sometimes having more data doesn’t necessarily create more meaning. It was a refreshing reminder to those of us working in a world of site analytics and data that sometimes human experience can’t be measured, so it’s a good idea to consult gut instinct when making decisions.
Have side projects!
“Sometimes you need to draw animals” – Hannah Donovan
Hannah Donovan told us the story of her near-burnout and how having side projects has helped her out. I’m a huge fan of side projects and always seem to have at least three on the go, so it was great to hear Hannah say that having other projects you can turn to when one seems to be going nowhere is a good way to avoid the scary situation of maker’s block that us creative types sometimes face.
Step outside of your own little world
This is something I realised as I sat listening to these amazing people from different fields. There was Nelly Ben Hayoun (a designer who is part of the International Space Orchestra), SpoekMathambo (a South African musician who talked about how the internet culture and music), Anne Helen Peterson (who somehow got us thinking on an intellectual level about celebrity culture) and of course Derek Sivers (who ended the event with a discussion on the meaning of life while dressed in a clown suit).
Events like Webstock are brilliant for out-of-the-box thinking. It’s all too easy to only look for inspiration in things you know a little about already, but Webstock 2014 reminded me that sometimes the best ideas come from something you previously thought was totally unrelated. So stay open minded, and be sure to try make it along to Webstock next year.
CharliPrangley is a marketing designer at Xero by day and creates design, fashion and lifestyle videos for her YouTube channel, CharliMarieTV (which you should definitely subscribe to), in her spare time. Click here to watch her Webstock video review