Jeremy Johnson — Dallas Area UX & CX Leader
customer experience leader


SXSW Interactive Brain-dump

SXSW Brain Dump SXSWi has come and gone again, this was my fourth time to attend and it just keeps getting bigger every year. When I first visited in 2003 (or was it 2002?) Bruce Sterling was still throwing SXSWi parties at his home and FROG Design hosted everyone in their office, unfortunately that doesn't really scale to the size of the conference today. But, the panels were as diverse and interesting as ever - and I came back with the following brain-dump:

(note to readers, I tend to take notes in bullet-point format, which is reflected below)

Emerging Social and Technology Trends

(More detailed notes here)

  • Check out:
  • Check out:
  • The age of sharing your information publicly is here to stay, it's normal for "kids" - they wonder why you are not blogging what you had for lunch
  • Room to add more control, maybe you only connect with people you've met with in real life (RFID to Linkedin?)
  • In india you can send an email to a post address, and a post to an email address

Getting to Consistency

(More detailed notes here)

  • If working on a suite of applications, look for "connection points" - the apps don't need to be 100% consistent
  • You don't need to be consistent just for legacy sake
  • There is room for some discovery within a UI
  • Sometimes a clean break is the best way, when upgrading applications
  • Remember: Goals no Features!!!
  • Integrate what is valuable and saves time
  • See when your users evolve. Adobe noticed things like RAW workflow, widescreen monitors, etc... Breaks based on user habits
  • Watch out for reusing objects if they don't provide the same experience
  • Design for workflows
  • Capture what the user wants to do
  • Adobe found users all most always select the advanced mode when given a choice, they feel like they are missing out on something if the don't
  • Pick up on user patterns
  • BMW has consistent "signatures" from the MINI Cooper to the top of the line BMW
  • All about goals, again - goals not features
  • Make it easy for developers and designers to stay consistent with guidelines and toolkits
  • Use peer review to pick up on problems in consistency

Stop designing products

(More detailed notes here)

Designing for Convergent Devices

(More detailed notes here)

  • 10ft design vs. 2ft design vs. 6in design
  • Control, Branding, Standards, Trust
  • Check out:
  • Look for the "Golden Pathway"
  • Remember the ecosystem (not just your product)
  • Support: Environment, Activities, and Device (Display, Input, and Platform)
  • Remember things like: Screen, Font and Colors, Input Devices, Focus States, User Feedback, Task Complexity, and User Expectations
  • Have the web be a companion for mobile. If possible have users fill out information on the web, then interact with the mobile experience.
  • Keep it simple, get only NEEDED data upfront - and continue to fill out a user profile as your "relationship" goes on

Mobile Design

(you can download the full presentation here)

  • 60% mobile users access mobile data once a month
  • XHTML-MP is WAP 2.0
  • Common devices to test for: Nokia S40, RAZR, Treo, "Give-a-ways"
  • Check out:

Moving Corporations to Accessibility

  • Use tools like: Contests, Awards, and Classes
  • You need a evangelist within the company
  • Have guidelines and resources for your developers
  • Check out:

Get Unstuck

(More detailed notes here)

  • Make sure your team feels like they are doing good work, being productive, and fulfilled
  • Have an open process, open up to other teams in your organization
  • Work with Design towards a goal
  • "Just add value"
  • Stop too much process
  • Find the middle ground between user needs and business goals
  • Have one member of your team always focused on the end solution

Mobile Application Design Challenges

(More detailed notes here)

Design Patterns

(More detailed notes here)

  • Focus on solutions, encourage good behavior, and remember - "reusable..."
  • Most of the good design work is done in the "fuzzy middle" (hard to provide guidelines for)

Customer Service is the New Marketing

(More detailed notes here)

  • Check out:
  • Zappos has a "Culture Book" they put out each year
  • A recurring job title I keep seeing from the panelists is "Community Manager"
  • Find ways to get closer to the customer, let your call centers talk to design/development
  • Admit mistakes
  • On one forum 60% of questions are answered by users
  • 30boxes - 3 employees, 30,000 users, forum only help - they spend about 4-6hrs a week on customer service

Truth about Mobile

(More detailed notes here)

  • Does your mobile strategy substitute, or complement your experience?
  • Advertising is not ready yet
  • Data usage is almost there (currently 32%), better to be ready sooner then later

SXSW also had a good mix of keynote speakers, with Will Wright's being my favorite of the bunch.

Overall it was a great experience - I learned a lot, while being inspired to do more.

So there you have it. My brain dump, remember podcasts and vidcasts will be available here in the near future.