Webstock – New Zealand’s Web Conference – Day 1

I had heard lots of great stuff about Webstock in previous years so decided to go along this year to experience it for myself. This is a very professional conference and has (mostly) excellent speakers covering a variety of Web related technologies.

Here’s my synopsis of Day 1.


Mike Brown (@maupuia)

  • You will fall in love with things that are made with love

Web Design that grabs people

Scott Thomas (@simplescott) – Design Director for Obama's campaign

  • Web and Print overlap in campaign

  • Deliver clear and concise messaging, focussed on the “We” rather than the “He”

  • Keep the message of hope while dismantling the notion of being aloof

  • Establish a consistency and balance to exemplify stability and experience

  • Persuading people was the mission of the home page therefore needed to be prominent, with localised information

  • Spend more time researching than design

  • Information architecture (inc. wireframes) is a key part of the design process but is often overlooked

  • The fold is dead

  • Recording speeches and putting up on Obama website with transcripts gave the power back to the politician not to major media.

  • The web is changing the way we interact, it is making the world smaller

  • Analytics are king. Track when people drop out of a process, how they are using a site etc.

  • No matter how complex or disorganised you think you are, understand that you can achieve great things when you have great people

Brian does the Andrew Sisters

Brian Fling (@fling)

  • “New Zealand is Yours Go there now” cheesy video clip

  • “Mobile Design and Development” O'Reilly book author

  • Context is important

  • Cost of supporting different mobile devices is high

Designing for Diversity – Inclusive Design & the User Experience

Liz Herrod (@scenariogirl)

  • Why are we segregating people?

  • Shallow personas are often used that don't take into account accessibility (poor sight, language barriers, poor hearing)

  • Why is disability intimidating?

  • Consider WCAG2 checklist

  • Work ethically; don't be lazy

Building the Open Web

Lachlan Hardy (@lachlanhardy)

  • Open Web 101: Check out OpenId, Microformats, Oauth.

  • WebFinger can connect your email address to an OpenId.

  • ActivityStreams extends Atom

  • Portable Contacts looks like a good way to access "who-you-know" information in a secure way; built around Oauth and vCard

  • URLs are important for usability. Apparently also good for SEO e.g. http://blah.co.nz/supports/xyz

  • APIs should be based on REST

  • Offer APIs (pref REST based) and relevant web feeds (ideally personalised) for your site that utilise Microformats

Security-Centred Design: Exploring the Impact of Human Behaviour

Chris Shiflett (@shiflett)

  • Ambience is an interesting concept to consider in design (e.g. ambient music when approaching a train stop, login seals)

  • Login seals (e.g. Yahoo) make phishing harder

  • Excellent example of Change Blindness given with switching between photos are trying to identify difference (hard!)

  • Password anti-pattern:

  • Accommodate users' expectation and tendencies; don't try to modify them

  • Be Humble. Arrogance attracts negative attention.

  • The Colour-changing Card Trick is awesome http://quirkology.com/UK/Video_ColourChangingTrick.shtml

Fostering Personal Connection to Place

Shelley Bernstein (@shell7) - Brooklyn Museum

  • Brooklyn Museum make things easy to find and make it easy to enjoy

  • Learn and adapt to feedback

  • Push comments up the page to foster discussion

  • With twitter be transparent about who is talking, good news and bad news.

  • Brooklyn Museum have kiosks that enable YouTube content to be uploaded from within the museum to capture public comments

  • Brooklyn Museum pulls back info from Foursquare and displays it on their website for the general public. Open APIs ftw.

  • They also worked with Foursquare to get a specific badge.

  • Use communities for moderation

  • Use crowd-sourcing to engage communities. Brooklyn Museum made a game to tag photos.

  • I like the concept of crowd-sourcing tagging of photos via a game. Crowd-sourcing has a number of opportunities

StackOverflow: Building Social Software for the Anti-Social

Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror)

  • Coding Horror blog

  • Know your audience

  • Social software for the anti-social: i.e. supports developers to ask questions and get answers

  • Voting works well with good info going to the top and allowing the person who asked the question select what they think is the best answer.

  • Have support to flag inappropriate content

  • User generated tagging enables related questions to be grouped

  • Reputation system unlocks abilities and people's answers are voted on

  • There aren't bad programmers, just programmers that haven't been taught how to write good code.

  • Work vs work ('Work' is what you're paid to do vs 'work' is what you do when you're interested and inspired)

  • Voting for new features

  • Badges are good to a) reward people and b) provide more context to others to evaluate context of answers

  • The faster your site the less friction it will have which which enable more participation.

  • No registration required: reduce barriers

  • Anybody can edit anybody's post.

Please, Don't Let it be Interactive

Regine Debatty

The Word Wild Web


  • We fall in love with things made with love & some people refuse to fall in love with things that aren't made with love.

  • ASCII Storytelling/Poetry is quite cool and Rives is great at it

  • Check out http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_tells_a_story_of_mixed_emoticons.html for his TED talk on ASCII Poetry

  • Rives is great at Storytelling and Poetry 2.0


  1. thanks, for helping make not being there more bearable!

    superb precis!!


  2. Being there was indeed great. And a precis I can read (unlike my handwritten notes) is like being there again. Thanks Simon. And hello Ed!


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