This week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 WebVisions event for New York City. Starting in 2011/12, the wonderful folks who run WebVisions have been branching out from their origins in Portland, OR, with shows in NYC, Chicago and Barcelona. I was a speaker at the first-ever WebVisions for NYC last year, and this year I was happy to just be an attendee, without any concerns other than hearing great content and having great conversations with others.
Whereas many conferences tend to specialize in one area or another, WebVisions does a great job of bringing together people and ideas from disparate areas of the digital design world. This show was no exception, with talks on topics as specific as Shay Howe’s on “Performance-Driven HTML 5 & CSS 3” and as broadly philosophical as Doug Rushkoff’s jeremiad about “Present Shock.”
I learned a lot from every talk I saw; a few I’ll mention here:
- Jason Kunesh’s talk on leading the 2012 Obama campaign’s digital design group had excellent advice on team-building, motivation and culture.
- Nishant Kothery’s presentation told some honest, thoughtful stories about the soft skills and strategic detachment necessary for the pragmatic challenge of getting things done in the messy, emotion-filled work of design.
- Carolyn Chandler gave an excellent overview of the strategies and structures involved with creating places for play with software.
- Sara Wachter-Boettcher got into the mechanics of what it takes to make content work in the many necessary contexts companies demand these days, as well as wisdom on the organizational knots we have to tackle to make it happen.
- Bill DeRouchey’s sagacious exploration of the many ways asking “Why” can open up new ways of seeing, understanding, and collaborating — advice applicable far beyond design projects.
WebVisions has such a great community feel to it, and yet still delivers on world-class content without a lot of the overwhelming weight of much larger events. But even their Portland event — which regularly pulls in around a thousand people — still manages to feel very community-driven. In fact, I’m looking forward to speaking there this coming May. I encourage you to come on out to Portland for the show!