The Inspiration that was WebVisions 2009

May 25th, 2009

A few days removed from WebVisions 2009 I sit here and ponder what stood out at the conference. Words like: Affordance, User-Experience, Interface Engineering, Social Capital, ROI and AJAX (ok, I know the last two are abbreviations not words) were spoken in many of the talks, however the industry vocabulary is not what stood out to me.

What did impress me was the frequency with which the following were emphasized:

  • Creativity in designing & coding the user experience.
  • The importance of an honest approach to users, clients and team members.

Here are a few highlights from the sessions that I attended:

The Future of Organic Search

Vanessa Fox, editor of Search Engine Land and former Google employee, gave a strong session talk entitled The Future of Organic Search. Her knowledge and passion for the subject stood out as she covered the history and future of search. It was staggering to see how Google has grown to dominate the space, with YouTube actually being the second ranked search engine (which is also part of Google).

The strongest takeaway for me was that old style thinking of home page and interior pages is not nearly as useful as it once was, since a majority of users will arrive at your site from a search engine link. This means that more often than not, they are not going to end up on your home page when they arrive at your site. So make sure that your messaging is working for them throughout the entire site!

Cooking up a Gourmet User Experience

Cooking up a Gourmet User Experience by Jarred Spool from UIE was a great presentation that provided me with the opportunity to take a step back and look at how I approach project management. The studies that his company did about design teams and successful projects were truly fascinating and surprising.

His research revealed that a project approached more from a techniques perspective and less from methodology is likely to result in a more creative and successful product. I will be considering what areas of project management I can loosen up to enable more creativity in my work.

How to Win Projects and Influence Budgets

How to Win Projects and Influence Budgets by Daniel Schutzsmith was by far my favorite session. Inspired by the book, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Daniel emphasized approaching projects and clients with a sense of reality, respect and honesty. By using personal anecdotes from his years running a design agency, Daniel covered how to identify and work with ideal clients. He also shared what he has learned about clients and what they are really looking for, which is most often peace of mind.

I was impressed with how he presented suggestions for approaching your business in an authentic and honest manner, something that seems to get lost in the realms of budgets and deadlines.

The Rise of Modern Making

My favorite keynote was The Rise of Modern Making by Mark Frauenfelder who is the editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine as well as the founder of His keynote covered topics such as the history of the ‘making’ movement, creativity, living your ideals, and sustainability. He presented an inspired and authentic vision and I would have been quite happy if he had a few more hours to present.