Information and Insights from Sessions at SXSW in Austin, TX

SXSW Interactive 2013 Notes – Table of Contents

Posted: March 14th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '13 | Comments Off on SXSW Interactive 2013 Notes – Table of Contents


Breaking the Mold With Meaningful Design

Posted: March 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | 1 Comment »

Scott Dadich – Wired Editor
Tony Fadell – CEO, Nest Labs
Hosain Rahman – CEO, Jawbone

Great design has been a trend since the late 90’s – form + function. We’re currently seeing hardware and software really coming together with great design. Devices have become fashion and not just a piece of electronics that you use.

Things used to be all about function and the software or skin was thrown together at the end. The iPod set a standard to do it with great design together.

Great design needs to be stay true to form. It starts with the function and the implementation of that function – being as pure to that function as possible. It’s about subtracting and subtracting to get it down to that core function. Design is architecture itself. Each step of the process is working towards solving that problem… the “why”. Design just isn’t in the product itself, but the packaging, the manual, the unboxing, everything – it is all tied together. It is all about clarity for what you’re doing and why, and making sure everyone knows that.

You can take any product and ask yourself how you would make it better?

You need to be open to all types of data especially when going into a new market and be able to tweak something to get it right, even if it delays a product. It comes down to solving the problem.

Google[X]: Building a Moonshot Factory

Posted: March 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on Google[X]: Building a Moonshot Factory

Astro Teller

Does your work support crazy or risky “moonshot” ideas? Are you given the freedom to take risks? Many times it takes a war to think big, or risky, or “Moonshot”. Moonshot thinking starts takes a global scale problem, then you have to make some sort of sci-fi proposal to make that problem go away. There has to be some reality in the sci-fi sounding idea so you can convince others that it will actually work. Google supports “Moonshot” ideas. Ideas that are worth doing that would matter to the entire planet.

Why does this matter?
Is thinking like this worth it? It matters because when you try to do something radically hard, you approach the problem differently than when you try to make something incrementally better. If you attack the problem as if it’s solvable even though you don’t know how to solve it, the results will shock you. Perspective shifting is way more than being smart.

Google[X] is like Peter Pan’s with PhD’s. If failure doesn’t happen at least half the time, we’re not shooting high enough. It isn’t about money. If you’re adding huge amounts of value to the world, the money will come later. A “classic business plan” isn’t needed. Just get it out there. When you think about the impact and positivity of the impact you think about and solve problems differently.

Google[X] found a way to determine your location inside on google maps, and spun it into Google Geo.

Google[X] is trying to create an AI that works like a neural network. They’re working on visual identification and language identification and learning.

Homework: What would I work on if I knew ahead of time I wouldn’t fail? Why wouldn’t you start that tomorrow?

“Dream big, and pay the bills along the way.” -Elon Musk
He has bravery and creativity that make him successful. You have to be willing to learn from your failures and move forward. You have to be humble to be audacious. If you’re going slowly enough that you don’t break your prototypes, you’ll never go radically fast.

A moonshot factory isn’t just picking something crazy to go after, it’s moonshot built on moonshot. It goes from who you hire, to how you break stuff. It’s moonshots all the way down.


Why Designers Should Care About Measuring Success

Posted: March 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on Why Designers Should Care About Measuring Success

Alfred Lui – Jawbone, Dir. of UX

How do you know this idea is going to work?
This question asks you for proof of the future. This is a fair question because designers love change, but businesses do not. This is a balance between pushing change and avoiding risk in business.

Strategy is to determine what to make over a short time and over a long time.

This is a common issue – the balance between disruptive ideas and a business’s idea that they need to mitigate risk/change and save money.

“The innovator’s Dilemma”
“The Design of Business”
“The Lean Startup”

Our Dilemma:
Incredibly hard to prove the future

Breadcrumb of Proof
Idea -> Storytelling -> Solution
Desirable -> Feasible -> Viable (all of these need to overlap)

How does this all come together?

  • Look beyond the brief and ask for the whole picture. The brief describes what is missing, not the hole picture. What is the problem that this solves, and what does success look like?
  • Agree on the measurements early and expect new ones to come in. Always keep an eye out for new ways to measure success.
  • Test frequently, but mind your methods. A design that is usable doesn’t always mean it is new, especially if it is meant to change human behavior.

Why does this service exist?
What does success look like to you?
Are we optimizing for an existing behavior or creating a new one?

This is not about losing our intuition, or about designing by numbers. It just means that intuition is not the only quality that creates good work. It is about having an expanded responsibility.

Building a Better UX Resume

Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on Building a Better UX Resume

Mike Dunn, UX Designer, Game Journalist, Animator

The average recruiter spends about 6 seconds on your resume and everything typically looks the same (MS Word template with Times New Roman). How do you make your resume stand out? You want your resume to tell a story about yourself. Many people short-change their resume and don’t tell a story with it.

  • Define your audience
    What kinds of recruiters are going to be looking at your resume. Some will be people who don’t have any expertise in the area they are recruiting for. Then there are specialist recruiters – these are the ones who know exactly what you do. There are also hiring managers who have very little time for your resume.
  • Identify the problems
    Look at your existing resume and find the problems and how it communicates your skills.
  • Research what other people are doing
    Look at personas – a UX doc that describes a type of person as an individual person and gives key information about that person. Look around the web for interesting (strange weird unusual) resumes. An interesting one used infographics.
  • Design and Iterate
    For skills, a chart was created for UX, Web, Creative showing skill level and expertise. It communicates more than just a bullet list. For work experience, a timeline was created showing the mix of professional and self-employment work. These two elements were slotted in with a new profile and contact information. Goals and Motivators were added – it explains where you want to go. It also included a brief quote summing up the philosophy of the work. This became a two-sided piece with recommendations added to the back.
  • Test it!
    How many offers/interviews do you get? The resume was definitely a conversation starter and was generally positive. There was some negative feedback from the timeline.

It’s important to know your audience. The creative resume doesn’t work for everyone. There will be some instances where you’ll still need your typical word doc version.

Drawing Conclusions: Why Everyone Should Draw

Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on Drawing Conclusions: Why Everyone Should Draw

Drawing ConclusionsVon Glitschka

Drawing Defined: doodling, sketching – it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Drawing is appropriate creatively because it touched on so many things. Don’t say, “I can’t draw worth crap.” It’s easy to come up with an excuse not to do something. Set those excuses aside. It can fill the gap when the spoken word falls short.

There is a massive history of drawing. From cave drawings to Jesus to Egypt to large land drawings only seen from the air. Monks would even draw in the margins of their work. Comic books have inspired lifetimes of drawers from the 30’s. Commercial art has been around for over 100 years.

Computers have moved things to the “drawing downgrade” and has become a bit of a crutch for drawing. Saul Bass was interviewed in the 90’s and stated that if you don’t know how to draw you are in deep trouble. You gotta be a one man band to start and know the nature of that process. You need all the tools available to think. One of those tools is drawing. “Design is thinking made visual.”

Drawing enhances the narrative and can communicate powerfully.

Drawing today has moved towards a tool-driven process (photoshop or software). Don’t be a “tooler”. Software is just a tool. You need to have a balance between analog and digital skills. Exercise your drawing muscles. Sometime it is difficult because of time or deadlines.

Doodles to capture ideas and lock in it’s essence. You can then move forward to refine it. It doesn’t take much but is an easy way to get things out. It allows you to explore ideas quickly.

Images and pictures have better effect and can communicate 6x more effectively than non-visual communications. 75% of your brain sensory processing is dedicated to visual information.

Drawing improves your thinking – doodling in a meeting helps you to remember things better. Drawing enhances learning.

There is no secret to it. Just do it and you will improve. Enjoy the struggle, it won’t be easy at first. For the next 21 days, make drawing a creative habit. Focus on something you like to draw.


About WYSIWYS: What You See is What You Spec’d

Posted: March 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on About WYSIWYS: What You See is What You Spec’d

Dave Rupert
Dan Gardner
Alax Breuer

The biggest challenge of responsive design is decision making.

  • Purpose
    What are you trying to accomplish (publishing, commerce, marketing)? The content determines the design.
  • Platform
    How does this responsive site exist with other products on the same devices? Is it replicated or differentiated from a native application? How does it adaptively serve up images based on the view? What is the technology (CMS?)? What is the content, and what is needed on what device? For functionality, where can value be added? It can almost be more app-like. It isn’t page design it is interactive design.
  • Prioritization
    How you prioritize is a big challenge. Think big (full page templates) but also be thinking about the micro elements (icons buttons). I isn’t mobile first, it is ALL platforms at once (more, but simple). Where to you place your breakpoints or midpoints?
  • Process
    How is the site used? Using the system is as important as the system itself. You need to look at everything (org structure, resources, CMS access, etc.). Best practices: team composition, argue early and often, prototype early and often, tools.

The Times of London
The reading experience has changed. Even the web isn’t a great experience, but then the iPad showed up so The Times developed a way to read it there. Then Android tablets showed up and made it more complex (sizes resolutions formats… fragmentation). They created a web view that would work on all tablet platforms.

Responsive Deliverables
What are our goals for a responsive design? Modules is the new way for developing sites. Little bundles of HTML and JS get pulled together to make a full website. This is done to isolate things in the design. SMACSS by Snook. We aren’t creating websites, we are creating systems.

Copyright & Disruptive Technologies

Posted: March 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | 1 Comment »

Wendy Seltzer
Andrew Bridges
Derek Khanna
Margot Kaminski
Ben Huh

Incumbent technologies do not want to give ways to new tech.

Andrew Bridges
Copyright is now on the radar in some of the most powerful/rich people in the US. The new 6 strikes law goes a little far. Example: If you don’t pay a toll 6 times, you don’t have access to the road any more. Things have moved from civil to criminal, so there are no protections for people pulled down if it is incorrect.

Ben Huh
DMCA provides safe-harbor provision for content sites. Self-protection created this law, not foresight. The internet is about expression, and we don’t know what the future of expression is going to be because it doesn’t exist yet. Intellectual Property is NOT property. Things exist for the public good.

Wendy Seltzer
Copyright is the “engine of free expression”. Copyright is a negotiated exclusion – who is invited to the table to make the laws? Typically the incumbents who already have copyrights. In 1998, the DMCA the entertainment industry and internet service providers negotiated that law.

Derek Khanna
The copyright institution was created to provide a content monopoly. Cell phone unlocking is now a federal crime (after the DMCA removed that provision this year). You can get 5 years in prison and half a million dollar fine. A petition received 140,000 signatures which got legislation turned around. Next Step: DMCA was written in a way to make certain technologies illegal going forward. It makes assistive technology for the blind and deaf illegal.

Margot Kaminski
Existing copyright law used to go after individual users through on certain platforms (napster, kazaa, gorkster). There has a been a shift to move the cost of copyright enforcement from individual companies to tax payers. NET Act of 1997 and PRO-IP Act of 2008. New measures going forward: ACTA, TPP. TAFTA (and we don’t know what is is these trade agreements).

How do you pick an issue Derek? It is about small victories – disentangling the myth with actual on-the-ground issues.

How does copyright overlap with 1st amendment issues? The courts have thrown it back to congress as long as it doesn’t touch freedom of expression.


Mythbusting: Engineering a Viral Video

Posted: March 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on Mythbusting: Engineering a Viral Video

Eduardo Toben
Bettina Hein
Kevin Doohan
Rob Ciampa

A viral video is a video that becomes popular through the process of internet sharing… duh. Why should a marketer care? Awareness and Views.

Many times good content that works is the most important part (Build Direct Laminate Flooring).

Real virality is often smaller than you’d think.

  • Make relevant content
  • Lobby tastemakers and find passionate enthusiasts – seeding: getting your video seen by the right people.
  • Build Subscribership
  • Encourage participation
  • Use cross-pollination of email, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, G+

Views can be purchased – $800 for 1 million robots views. If you get caught, Google will cut your access. Incentivized views – people paid to watch your videos.

How do you do it then?
Look at the industry and figure out how many people are actually watching videos? How long are the videos in that space? What is your target audience actually watching – how can you expand on what your audience wants to see? What videos are out there now? Are those videos the same type of things you want to put out there?

Once you’ve looked at this, clone the metadata – titles, tags, descriptions, target links, annotations. Track how you are doing in YouTube search. Put it together in a very analytical way.

How do you do paid views correctly? Choose YouTube ad placement carefully. There is no need to stick to 30sec spots for your preroll.

It includes luck as well, but you need to be ready for it.


  • Audience
    Know who is watching your channel
  • Point of View (perspective)
  • Partner
    Maximize awareness and views on social, affiliate networks, pr/earned media. The foundation is a good piece of content.

Video and YouTube was very hard to sell to a bank (they couldn’t even access YouTube in the bank). They had to convince the bank that they needed to tell a story.
Baby Does Her Grocery Shopping
This video was found and wrapped with the message for the bank.

The Future of Video; The Post-YouTube Apocalypse

Posted: March 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: SXSW '12, SXSW '13 | Comments Off on The Future of Video; The Post-YouTube Apocalypse

Courtney Holt
Danny Zappin
Maker Studios

Maker was founded by a group who wanted to stop pitching to traditional studios and just make stuff – so they started to put video up on YouTube (prior to Google’s purchase). This group came together with similar interests and built this studio together and reinvested in the group to create some sort of infrastructure.

It is more interesting to build up YouTube shows and have/own than vs. getting it on TV or into traditional media. You don’t have to wait for the Hollywood system to tell them it’s ok to make something. They can do anything they want.

Maker isn’t just a production company, but a full media company as well. There is merchandise and other things that the company fills.

What did YouTube (and technology) enable that didn’t exist before? The platform (YouTube) finally enabled people to watch video in an easy universal way. It really helped it to spread, and there was a community there and it provided instant feedback. Technology in filmmaking became cheaper and easier to use. It allows many more people to participate in content creation.

How do you make money on YouTube? Advertisements – Google revenue share goes to the creators. There are ad deals as well. It’s a tough balance with certain brands who micromanage and are very particular about the content.

Because this type of thing is so new, there isn’t a business plan, or a model to follow for Maker Studios.
What is the roll of the fans? They keep you authentic and call out the BS. They give ideas and in many ways direct what happens with videos. It’s an intimate relationship with the fans. The audience also helps to get other work in movies or TV. There is an audience that will come with them for other projects. The YouTube videos help to stem other projects.