Last week I went to the Webstock conference (proper) and the ONYAs awards dinner. Webstock is a weeklong conference with three days of workshops and then two days of presentations. It was fascinating to attend a conference that is outside of my normal working experience. I’d recommend this to anyone.
There were several themes that I thought were interesting for libraries.
‘the creep of the computer into social and physical space via mobile devices’
Our real-life experience of urban spaces is increasingly being augmented by mobile devices. We can navigate using digital maps. Geo-location games like FourSquare encourage users to share where they are and to visit venues (in real life!) This is not true for everyone of course – communities pick up and use technologies in different ways and at different rates. (As evidenced whenever libraries try to withdraw a collection e.g. videos.) It’s very easy to find a community that will support your point of view – there still needs to be a space where different community groups can interact.
Make it easy
‘do your work to improve someone’s day’
Think about the human experience. What do humans ask? (e.g. “where do you live?” instead of “address”.) Think accessible options at the beginning of a project. Improving accessibility improves the experience for everyone. You don’t have to understand all the accessibility guidelines or use a checklist. Just take a little bit of time to make it inclusive. There are conventions in design. Everything may look similar but that helps users navigate through the application. Think about human psychology – what’s the impact of ignoring social design techniques? e.g. making users login using a barcode rather than a name. There can be security issues if the process isn’t easy.
Give up control
‘live as users live it’
Don’t waste time trying to predict everything – your users will do things with your creations that you never even dreamt of. Listen to their feedback and improve the things you can. If there needs to be a separation between official and supporter brands then facilitate the separation with pre-designed templates. Go where your users are – don’t expect them to come to the things you are building. Use the things as they use them – social media especially is not a 9-5 thing.
There were some excellent trade stands as well. Silverstripe ran a “How do humans win?” wall and Springload had their own cartoonist to illustrate a wall of words provided by attendees. Intergen’s bach space was a welcome retreat from the regular town hall space. 3months used lego to illustrate the Agile process.
The ONYAs were a celebration of those who design, develop and create New Zealand’s best websites and applications. It was the first year it was run. Nice to see Christchurch City Libraries nominated for “Best corporate content” even if they didn’t win. (Nice to talk to them in the dessert break too!) Congratulations to the winners.
After a good night of presentations and food and drink, this is how it ended.