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Archive for April, 2011

Regrets: Not going to the Web App Masters Tour

I fucked up. Web App Masters Tour was in Philadelphia last month and I failed to go. It was a dumb move. Here’s why:

Update: Reason 0: It was the only opportunity to see Kevin Hoffman speak on this tour. Boooo!

Reason 1. Luke Wroblewski: I want to quit my job and be Luke’s apprentice for a year. That’s how much I value this guy’s expertise. A few years ago when he came out with a book on form design I was all “WHA??? FORM design? B-O-R-I-N-G!”. But think about it: If he can get a whole community of practitioners to see past the inane nature of form UI and into how impactful small design decisions like that have in the bigger scheme of things, he’s a person to pay attention to. And so I have. I have paid lots of attention since. And he’s delivered gold over and over and over and over again. And I missed him at WAMT in my city. Ugh!

Reason 2. Josh Clark: When his book Tapworthy came out early in 2010 I had never heard of Josh, but due to serendipity (I cannot recall how), I ended up with a copy of it, sent by him, with probably the nicest note I’ve ever received, which ended with “if you were an app, you’d totally be on my home screen”. I had not designed a mobile application before reading the book, and I finished it feeling confident about doing so (and so I did). Josh & mobile design were meant for each other: he is really good at providing concrete guidance on how to design for its unique contexts of use, while being careful about categoric approaches given how nascent this whole thing is and how quickly it is evolving. Fortunately, I was able to take a whole-day workshop with him at the IA Summit last month, which cemented my impression and expectations. Now you can get some Josh action yourself.

Reason 3. Stephen Anderson: I’ve known Stephen for a long time now and was able to see him present numerous times (if you haven’t, this is your chance, don’t blow it). At first it was his brilliant visual design skills that caught my eye (you will not find more beautiful presentations anywhere. I dare you), but also, he brings a really interesting perspective to UX; a blend of education theory and psychology that I have not seen anyone else pursue and offer to our community. Every single time I hear Stephen speak, I come out having learned something I did not know before and, more importantly, a dozen questions on things I had not thought of before and an enthusiasm to pursue them. To me, that’s one of the most valuable things you can take away from a professional event.

Reason 4. Steve Portigal: I can count in one hand the number of people in the world I really look up to in the area of design research. One of them is Steve Portigal. I’ve been reading his blog since before smartphones existed. Yes, we are old. I’m not formally trained in research methods and mostly picked up skills as I progressed in my career. Everything Steve has shared with our community I have voraciously consumed. He talks about the stuff that makes a difference when you are actually doing research. Stuff that other people who don’t do research think is boring, like how to ask good/right questions in an interview and how to do analysis once you are done with the fun data gathering part. In short, he leaves the general hand waving about design research to others and gives you all the juicy bits. On a platter. So don’t screw up and miss the opportunity to ask him questions in person, like I did. #facepalm

In conclusion

I could really keep going and tell you in excruciating detail all the reasons why it was stupid of me to miss the Web App Masters Tour (there are 7 more: Bill Scott, Kate Brigham, Mike Lee, Aviva Rosenstein, Noah Iliinsky, Julie Zhuo and some guy named Jared Spool), but you get the picture. Even if you can only see a few of them speak and have to run back to work (maybe share with a colleague?), it is definitely worth going. I’ll go beat myself up about it offline now. Luckily, you don’t have to make the same mistake: They will be in Seattle (May 23-24) and Minneapolis (June 27-28), so go get some. Tell them I sent you. My name + $5 gets you a free coffee.

UPDATE:

I just found these: