352 Inc. / Digital Marketing / January 26th, 2009

Jammin in Atlanta, my favourite sessions

I would like to offer a brief overview of my first web conference with the 352 team.

Day 1, Brandon picked me up at JAX airport and we drove to Atlanta in the scion, we happened to have two GPS systems but we still managed to get lost.  However, I did get to pick the brain of a very talented coder/designer for 6 hours.  We checked into the un-cool hotel (ground floor), while others stayed in the cool hotel, with all the speakers.  Next time I will pay extra to be among the elite.

Day 2, Woke up and had breakfast with Brandon in the adjoining hotel, again we got lost on the way the to “The Louder Milk Center”, which was three blocks from where we were staying, (there is a pattern happening here).

Session 1 — Making Accessibility Sexy // with Chris Heilmann “Web Developer, Yahoo” and Dan Rubin “User Experience Designer” you can get the presentation slides here http://www.slideshare.net/cheilmann/making-accessibility-sexy-presentation

I walked away from this session with some notes…

  1. How do people with Dyslexia read your web pages?
  2. What does accessibility mean?
    1. Hardcore testing of your systems.
    2. Building Better systems for everyone.
  3. Semantic markup
    1. This allows Both Humans and machines to understand the same information.
  4. Progressive JavaScript
    1. Ensure a site is functional even if users do not have JavaScript enabled, and only use JavaScript to add new layers of enhanced functionality.
  5. Screen Readers.
    1. Screen readers are not just for the blind or visually impaired, users who are illiterate or have learning disabilities use them also.
  6. Challenge people to prove you are wrong.
  7. Play to your constraints and barriers.
    1. Check out the accessible YouTube player Chris built http://icant.co.uk/easy-youtube/
  8. Create new style sheets for users with disabilities.
  9. Create Close Captioning for Flash presentations and Video hosts.
  10. Allow people to access your code and allow them to build.
  11. Text to Index
    1. You must have searchable text on your site so search engines can find you.

Session 2 — Marketing, Branding, and Reputation // Chris Perry Executive Vice President — Weber Shandwick // Jason Ford Director of Interactive Services — Tocquigny // John Moore Marketing Medic — Brand Autopsy.  In hindsight I should have attended Darrin Ward’s session of SEO and SEM (he is Irish and also from Dublin).

My notes included

  1. Social networking
    1. Who are you trying to reach.
    2. Who are your audience?
  2. Flickr and Twitter can be used by companies.
    1. However, my own personal feelings on this is having Twitter accounts for companies is not a great idea, social networking is about people not companies.  People want to follow what other people are doing and not necessarily the companies, so have your staff use twitter to write about what they are personally doing,  (However my caveat is, http://www.twitterfeed.com/ can be used to feed twitter with RSS feeds from blog posts).
  3. Blog
    1. How do you interact with the outside world
    2. Link to other posts that are similar in nature to your posts
    3. Become conversational on other peoples sites.
      1. However to be conversational, you must know what you are talking about.
    4. Post relevant interests that your company represents.
      1. Again, I do not want to follow companies I want to follow individuals within a company.  You should not post for the sake of posting, make sure the reader can walk away with something they can learn from you.  Write articles that are relevant to your industry and try to great a conversation with your readers.
      2. Good Example of creating conversation that is relevant to our company by Dan        
      3. Bad example By Declan – this post has no place on a web design blog, and should be deleted.
      4. If the subject is not relevant to the theme of your site do not post it.  You can get a free blogging account here http://wordpress.org/ for non industry related posts.
    5. Is Negative press hurting your brand?
      1. Survey your customers and ask them how they feel about your company.
      2. Jason Ford actually came up with a good point and I agree 100%.  He said allow users to review your product and  keep their negative feedback on your site, some people will say they hate your product because it was a horrible shade of red, but you may like red and if that the only issue with it why wouldn’t you purchase it.

Session 3 Design Disrepair //  Jason Beaird Designer and author of The Principles of Beautiful Web DesignThis was by far my favorite session and I happened to get Jason’s book (thanks Ross).  You can see Jason’s slides from the session here .
I didn’t get to take to many notes from this session as it was in the non platinum rooms, there was not much room for writing on a pad and it was very muggy.  But with all these issues Jason managed to keep my attention 100% at all times.  The number one reason I enjoyed this session so much was that he made it personal, he made analogies between a website and a house, because both homes and websites need to be maintained, but sometimes maintenance isn’t enough and the whole house/website needs to be renovated, i.e. outdated content, obsolete code, dysfunctional navigation, lack of scalability.

Overall the event was amazing and I did get to meet some the big personalities, all of the speakers were really approachable and made you feel very welcome, I cannot wait until next year and hopefully I will get lost with Brandon again and pick his brain for another 6 hours.

For next year, I would like to see some more speakers that pertain to what I do – sell web site solutions, so J. Cornelius if you read this, I am available give a talk on selling websites.  I would also like to see Geoff Wilson our CEO talking along with the likes of Lincoln Anderson speaking about Silverlight and Evan Blake talking about .NET development.