Web Stock is tech conference like no other, held in Wellington, New Zealand. Once again I left feeling energized and impassioned after listening to all the speakers on such a wide range of subjects.
These are my summaries and don’t even come close to describing the full scope and quality of each talk. Use only as a guide to hear more. I’ll add links when the videos are released. I also may have made mistakes transcribing this because my hand writing is terrible!
Tim Kadlec (@tkadlec) – Unseen issues behind web development
There are parts of web development that we don’t always consider – access, security, performance. They remain “unseen”.
There are barriers to internet access you might not consider
- Content – e.g. access to certain content is simply blocked in many countries
- Culture – e.g. in parts of India women cannot own mobile devices because it is described as “dangerous to their well being”
- Cost – e.g. see GNI below. Some refugees in Europe have to decide on contacting family members at home country or eating that day.
- Infrastructure – e.g. Only one in five Tanzanians have access to power and that power is not reliable.
53% of people leave your page if load time is >3 seconds. https://whatdoesmysitecost.com/ will tell you how much of GDI it costs someone in poorer places to view your web site. will scan your site for security issues Axe can be used to check for accessibility issues
Not providing basic accessibility cost Target $6 million in a lawsuit. Basic stuff – no alt text, image maps, not using header structure.
Kim Goodwin (@kimgoodwin) – Use scenarios and storyboards
A scenario is “A plausible future story following a real person or persona from start to finish”.
We tend focus on stories in pieces of functionality but there are UX ‘purgatories’ in between our stories where the user is left hanging. i.e. Who owns the user when they are between organisational areas of responsibility.
User stories cause narrow thinking – we lose the big picture, what is the user trying to achieve e..g “User logs in” – a user never thinks, “shit I must log in to Facebook” they are always transitioning to something else.
Kim recommends lots of user discovery.
Meeting expectations in your scenario is not good enough. You should add something exceptionally good.
Lara Hogan (@lara_hogan) – Performance
Gave lots of practical performance optimizations you can make.
We shouldn’t have performance cops. Everyone should think about performance.
She uses live side by side comparisons of their site loading along side a competitors to inspire people and their executive.
Also uses side by side live loading of the website on a large monitor screen for major global locations. They server the site from a New Jersey data center and this highlights how slow site load in Australia is compared to what their engineers see in New York.
Katie Dill (@lil_dill) – Considering UX on parts of the user journey you don’t directly control
Lots of positive examples of good UX from some New Zealand companies.
Questioning how you control the chaos in the parts of peer-to-peer products you don’t directly control. E.g. Air bnb hosts meeting their guests. Trade me sellers handling a purchase.
Give the peers guard rails – prevent any of the peers from inadvertently creating shit experiences – used trademe seller guides as example here. Said to quiet YOUR brand here. E.g. on the Etsy store the peer sellers voice is loud, your brand is quiet. On air bnb profiles the Airbnb brand is quiet so the peer hosts personality is loud.
Keep it real – let peers be authentic. Example of uber ride where she was having a terrible day and the guy said “can I cheer you up?“. He turned on disco ball and some techno and made her day. Also gave examples of allowing video for Airbnb’s new travel experiences product rather than images because it would show more of the host’s personality and authenticity of the complex experience.
Some examples from listening to Car Talk –
Marcin Wichary (@mwichary) – Three examples with a surprising detail in their UX
Speaks about one of Charles Babbage’s machines, the pacman game and mouse pointers on text mode displays. How they all have incredible UX but it’s not well known.
- The babbage machine had error states to show people that calculating machines were safe.
- Pacman had incredible tweaks to make the game more friendly than anything that had come before.
- Detailed how much time and effort went into a DOS program to have a smooth mouse movement. No technical need for it but it made the physical mouse disappear and the user’s hand became directly linked to the pointer.
Very entertaining and informative!
Sacha Judd (@szechuan) – If you look closely there are technical experts in places you might not expect them
I think this was the highlight of the day for me. Excellent content and delivery. Full talk here: .
In general it was about diversity. It was themed around the fandom that One Direction has and how this has inspired non-coders to become self taught coders and media content producers (editing tumblr and wrdpress themes), movie editors, CSS editing, social media management, writing fan fiction. How all these people are perfect candidates for tech jobs but haven’t followed that traditional path.
She became part of the community, gained some trust and then ran a survey. They are typically young women, they are full of self doubt – no formal education, didn’t know about tech roles – even the job titles, were told they shouldn’t go for tech roles.
Recommends hiring on ability (not just academic achievement)
Gave incredible examples of the things one direction fans did. They organised 55 million social media fans to basically get a single they wanted released.
Recommended – remove gender specific keywords – achievement based hiring (no resumes)
Ashley Nelson-Hornstein (@ashleynh) – Humanities x Technology
Apple ads never have tech specs. Focus on the experience.
Big homage to steve jobs. He was at the crossroads of tech and humanities.
Gave an example about Polaroid. Inventor removed complexity of taking pictures so people could focus on photography.
Never Alone video game took Iñupiaq legends so that kids who were being lost to technology were able to re-engage with culture – . Spent years working directly with elders to make sure game matched their expectations.
Cal Henderson (@iamcal) – Emojis
Fascinating history and how they are displayed on various devices. Such a fantastic speaker. Highly recommend this one!
Unfortunately Patti was hit by a car in New Zealand but she still recorded a talk from hospital while waiting for an operation. She spoke about designing for humanity.