Tuesday March 14, 2006

SXSW 2006: Day 3

Today’s panels were sort of “hit or miss.” Two that I went to didn’t leave me with what I expected; one was completely different than I surmised from the title and description, and the other was fun but mostly uniformative relative to my interests (which I thought would be piqued). Anyhow, what follows are some notes from my day:

Remixing Business for a Convergent World

Alexandra Samuel, Robert Scoble, Sloan Foster, Jason Levitt, Eric Steuer

Question: What does convergence mean to you and your business?

  • An ecosystem of users & developers
  • Move from top-down to bottom-up content creation
  • A shift in how businesses view their customers


  • Businesses are becoming increasingly transparent in order to be successful
  • The Microsoft video blog gets more traffic and linkbacks than the official press release pages (duh)
  • Customer evangelism is on the rise (duh)
  • The blog is the most effective relationship-builder
  • The message and relationship between customer and business must become stronger than the customer and the logo/planned marketing identity

Design Eye for the List Guy

Andrei Herasimchuk (via iSight), Cameron Moll, Paul Nixon, Ryan Sims, Keith Robinson

Unsurprisingly, this panel was packed and delivered the goods we all expected. This year’s Guy was none other than Craigslist, which has a loyal base of users that sort of champion the “undesigned” look of the site. So it was already a tough nut for the Design Eye guys to crack, and that was compounded by the fact that today’s keynote was delivered by Craig Newmark. And was he in the audience? Yep. Imagine that: presenting a guerilla-style redesign on a site when the creator is watching from somewhere in the crowd.

Some points of interest:

  • Keith’s user testing showed that many people (especially non-tech people) were easily confused by the site
  • Cameron explained how he trimmed down the craigslist homepage by examining and trimming down available options to the ones mobile users were more likely to use. There was definitely a different intent of use for mobile users (e.g., you probably are very unlikely to want to post a listing from a mobile)
  • Ryan’s big reveal was really nice, and he proved that a great redesign (er, realign) could be achieved without adding (much) extra page weight. I think the homepage went up from 32k to 34k. More than the aesthetics, the information was simply laid out better.
  • Craig was actually invited up to the stage to comment on the new design, and though he said it looked nice, there seemed to be some reservation in his voice and body language. I’m sure it was a little uncomfortable to everyone, but the Design Eye guys made sure to make it clear that the task they undertook was made very difficult because of the great things that craigslist already does. They didn’t want to mess that up.

Anyhow, it was pretty great. The page on the Design Eye site should be going up soon, and then you’ll be able to see Keith’s documentation and, perhaps, Paul’s identity study.

In Summation.

It’s a good thing that the conference ends tomorrow. These 16-hour days really wear on us frail designer-types. ;)

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