Fairly Positive

Update 2011

On the 5th September I was lucky enough to attend Update 2011 (@updateconf) at the Brighton Dome. The event was part of Brighton Digital Festival and had a mix of sessions including presentations, panel discussions interspersed by music. I only went to the conference on the Monday but there were also a number of workshops on design and development on the following days.

The event had a generous education discount … nice :). Anyway, here are my rambling notes on some of the sessions …

The event kicked off with the event organiser, Aral Balkan, singing ‘The Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In’ with a live band - it certainly woke up the delegates.

Matt Gemmell (@mattgemmell) gave a talk on usability under an ‘evil’ persona (@evilmattgemmell), looking at how best we can create applications that annoy people, let them know that we have them and, if possible, cause physical injury :). The reverse psychology approach was refreshing and there were some key themes: do less, be useful, support orientaton, localise and be accessible. There were plenty of points to think about and I’ve already started to think about improvements to the Walking Tour iPhone app that I did for the University of Bristol.

Jeremy Keith (@adactio) provided a robust argument that we should be concentrating on using the Web rather than native applications and walled gardens - the Web is great because you don’t need permission to use it and it has a universality because it can be used by any device that has a Web browser. The whole Web versus the native app panel discussion aka Geek Ninja Battle. On the whole, I agree with the sentiment but clearly if you want to use certain hardware features like the camera, you currently have to use native APIs. For the Mobile Campus Assistant and MyMobileBristol projects at the University we opted to focus on the Web but, for some reason, App stores have captured a significant mindshare since people, on the whole, liked what we were doing but wanted to know when they could download it as an app.

Seb Lee-Delisle (@seb_ly) gave a live coding presentation on creating an Angry Birds clone (The Irritable Exorcists) in thirty minutes using the Corono SDK using Lua based code. It was certainly a fun session and Seb is a very engaging presenter. Seb also co-presents The Creative Coding Podcast which is on my list of things to listen too on the bus.

Sara Parmenter (@sazzy), a designer with plenty of experience of working with developers of iOS apps, gave a presentation on designing beyond the HIG and tips for working with developers. You should be thinking about designing with real content and avoiding Lorem ipsum and understanding how developers will use your designs.

Relly Annett-Baker (@rellyab) gave a presentation entitles ‘Arse Over Tit’ whose thesis focussed on the fact that developers decide they are going to make an app, but don’t think about the user and what problem they are going to solve.

Joachim Bondo (@osteslag), the creator of Deep Green Chess, presentation was called “Beyond Delicious” - from the title I thought it was going to be about improved social bookmarking but was actually about creating “delicious” applications that focussed on the user experience. Quality is more that the user interface and the user experience, it also extends to the code. Above all, quality takes time.

Cennydd Bowles (@cennydd) provided the closing keynote that talked about how current economic activity isn’t sustainable, with its planned obsolesce and artificial inflation of demand. However, society is changing and people want to be more than just consumers. Products need to be more human … well, humanise the projects we undertake. We also need to trust the intangibles - great UX creates trust and loyalty. This can’t be quantified. Profit will come. Disrupt, don’t differentiate. Aim for value and significance.