I recently attended WebVisions Portland, a global conference series that explores the future of design, content creation, user experience, and business strategy. This global series has been gathering business and thought leaders, designers, and developers to inspire learning, collaboration, and entrepreneurism since 2001. Below are a few highlights and recaps from sessions I attended. You can also experience many of the sessions firsthand through the conference’s roundup of videos.
- Hacking Happiness The overall theme for the conference was one I can certainly get behind: Hack Happiness! Based on the belief that happiness is key for relationships, work, and community, this simple idea is inspiring a movement of folks who agree that when we feel happier, we’re more open to collaboration, contribution, and innovation. Watch the Hack Happiness video and learn more at the Hack Happiness site. (As an aside, for those interested in taking the hacking-for-business concept a few steps further, I encourage you to check out Kristin Luck‘s take on Growth Hacking to accelerate growth and long-term success. Great stuff!)
- Brand Storytelling: Some New Chapters + Perspectives I’ve been helping clients craft and share their stories since 2010, and brand storytelling is a topic I care deeply about. We heard some great insights on using the structure of story to design customer experiences from Donna Lichaw in Story First: A Narrative Approach to Building Successful Products & Services. She has kindly posted her slides, so you can take a deeper look. I also enjoyed hearing from Krystal South of Oregon Storyboard on the Future of Storytelling panel, as she shared insights in finding the emotional connection between content and audience.
- Inspiration to Make—and Break—Media! As a former New Yorker with early career roots in PR, and as an ongoing advocate for social change, I was especially inspired to hear from Emily Long, Director of Communications and Development at The LAMP (Learning About Multimedia Project), an innovative NYC nonprofit. They educate and equip young people to shape the media landscape through hands-on learning. Check out their MediaBreaker tool, a video editing tool that empowers users to remix, critique, and re-frame news clips, commercials, music videos, and more. You can also view Emily’s great presentation on Reinventing Mass Media with 10,000 Jon Stewarts.
- Perspectives on Web Design Trends Many of the sessions were geared towards creative + technical designers. For those interested in diving deeper, there’s a great writeup from Gravitate Design to read, Leaner + Better: Lessons Learned at WebVisions. I also asked fellow WebVisions attendee and creative designer Sarah Giffrow of Upswept Creative to share a few highlights from her experience, since she is deep in the trenches of creative design each day. Her top highlights included The Science of Art, with Sarah Hall, which focused on the connections made—and trust built—through design. As Sarah noted after the session:
“The human brain has a variety of ways to perceive and interact with the world, and design is about connecting–not just connecting with each other, but how we connect and relate things together in our minds. A design can be the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, but it won’t be successful if it doesn’t consider the people involved in making it, and the people who will be using it.”
She also enjoyed Adam Connor’s talk, Working Better Together: Characteristics of Productive, Creative Organization, which explored how creative teams need to be people-centered, and stressed the importance of understanding each person’s role in a project, looking for shared values, and building trust within the team.
It was also great to connect and re-connect with several local organizations who also serve Portland’s creative community, including SEMPDX, The Technology Association of Oregon, and AIGA Portland. The WebVisions series will continue in 3 more of my favorite cities—Barcelona, Chicago, and NYC—later this summer + fall so check it out! You can also follow the fun on Twitter at @webvisions.
If you attended WebVisions here in Portland or elsewhere and have other roundups to share, I invite you to drop me a line. I’ll add them to this post!