If you follow me on Twitter , you know that this weekend I attended the Big (D)esign Conference in Dallas. I actually volunteered for a few hours in exchange for free admittance, which was well worth it. I showed up a bit early and got to help the Microsoft guys unload their Surface demo, which was *way* cool, and also spent some time ‘building’ the cool little notepads, part of the swag that attendees received. I was able to attend several sessions, each of which taught me something different, all of which I’ll be able to apply towards managing the Symbian-Guru community.
The opening keynote featured Norm Cox, who helped design the original Xerox ‘Star’ user interface, years before Apple or Microsoft had their GUIs. It was fascinating listening to the history of these interfaces that are so commonplace today. One thing that stuck out was a story about the icons they developed. At one point, Norm said they asked someone to draw an icon to show a new message had arrived. The first submission was an actual scene with an envelope – compete with arms, legs, and a face – bursting in through a door. Not quite what they’d wanted. Similarly, when they created the first printer icon, what seemed so obvious to his team was misconstrued by others as a Kleenex box. It reminded me that imagery is powerful, and not always crystal-clear.
The next session was Dr. Susan Weinschenk, who wrote ‘Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click ‘. Susan has done quite a bit of research into people’s behaviours, and the things that influence our actions. It was really fascinating, as she did an awesome job of tying the research into case studies. Translating this into community management is easy, as the goal is to get people to get more involved. Things like user choice are influenced not only by the number of choices presented, but also what order those choices are in, and whether the choice is made individually, or within a group.
Next up was Giovanni Galluci, self-proclaimed Social Media Ninja , discussing how to unleash the power of social marketing. Giovanni had some great tips on how to use various tools for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites to optimize your SEO and increase your business. One of the key points in Giovanni’s presentation was ‘Don’t get wrapped up in technology – get wrapped up in treating people well.’ This is really key for any community manager, as your core job is to build the community. You simply cannot have a community without people in it, and they won’t stay or come back if you don’t treat them right.
Erica O’Grady was up next, and I’ll confess, I really only attended her session because she had Van Wilder in the title. however, it turned out to be an excellent decision. Dubbed ‘Van Wilder’s Guide To Social Media’, Erica presented a number of great tips on using Social Media responsibly. One of the best tips that I pulled out was to make people important. It’s habitual in Social Media to focus on ‘influencers’, wihch can be good, but there are a ton of others that could be bigger advocates for you, and you don’t want to leave them aside.
Finally, Robert Wiseman’s presentation on ‘Future Proof Designs + Presentations for THIS Generation’ was awesome. I think the nugget that I picked up there was aimed towards developers, but it still applies. Robert gave an example of landscape designers who sometimes will purposefully not pave a path from the sidewalk to the building. Instead, they’ll wait to see the track that gets created as people make their own paths, and then pave over that. It’s key to sometimes let your users dictate how you should approach a situation or implement a new feature.
All in all, the Big (D)esign Conference was completely worth getting up super-early on a Saturday and spending all day in Dallas. I met a ton of cool, local people, and learned so much that I wasn’t able to share here. It was a smashing success, and something I will certainly attend next year, without question. Great job to the team who put things together.