remix uk Day 1

I’ve just got back from reMix UK (Mix UK) in sunny (and it was) Brighton. As is my way I thought I’d provide a little mini-review of the event…

Day 1
Keynote: Bill Buxton & Scott Guthrie (and others)
Great start from Bill who gave a passionate talk about the importance of design and user experience, including his personal mantra of, Ultimately, we are deluding ourselves if we think that the products that we design
are the "things" that we sell, rather than the individual, social and cultural experience that they engender,
and the value and impact that they have. Design that ignores this is not worthy of the name.
He backed that up with a great advert from a mountain bike company showing a rider have an exciting ride through a stream but you cannot see the make (or model) of the bike he’s on.

Bill talked about Jonathan Ive the designer behind Apple’s IMac & Ipod. He explained that he was at Apple during the bad years and it was only when Steve Jobs took over was he given the chance. The important points I took from that are (well it was obvious)  a) the company needs to put design at equal importance as any other part of developing & releasing a product b) you need to free employees’ from the n+1 release treadmill and allow them to fulfil their potential. I really enjoyed Bill presentation.

Scott’s presentation didn’t excite me quite as much, to be fair there wasn’t a lot of stuff that was new to me. He introduced folks from ITV and (InnerAthlete???). Again the ITV presentation was all about streaming…again. Ok I can see that it’s important to application developers because it helps to increase the Silverlight user-base but for me streaming video is not where the value of Silverlight is. So it was good to see the application side represented by the Athletic training software. Although the application design wasn’t my cup of tea.

Overall I would have preferred to leave after the first part of the keynote, but I’m sure for members of the audience who haven’t been exposed to Silverlight before then it would have been a great keynote. 7/10

It’s not necessary to be understood – Brendan Dawes
As a developer these are exactly the sort of sessions that I attend Mix for. Brendan showed lots of interesting ways to visualize data, although I doubt I could actually use any of them directly it helps me approach showing data in a different way. It also encouraged me to play more with development rather than only create things with a specific business purpose. 9/10

Designing for the Wild: Sketching Experiences – Bill Buxton
More of the same from Bill, with some interesting views about how much detail you put into your early designs and how many proposed solutions you deliver early on. It certainly struck a cord with all too many prototypes making it into a product because they were the only choice rather than necessarily being the best solution. I did feel that Bill didn’t offer advice for smaller companies working on much tighter budgets where even if you provide the roughest sketches to a client you’ll have burnt too much money and time. For that reason it’s not a perfect score. 9/10.

ADO.NET Data Services for the Web – Mike Flasko
Although I tend to avoid the development track I felt I needed to hear a good presentation on ADO.NET Data Services because I felt very suspicious about the use of this. Mike did a good job of explaining it even though it was very similar to previous presentations. I feel I have a much better appreciation of how and when to use it. I still would like more to be said about the relationship with WCF, i.e. I want to switch to a faster protocol than http, how would I do that?  8/10.

Becoming human; smiling like you mean it, & learning to say hello – Denise Wilton
A nice presentation from the Denise Wilton (Graphic Designer & Creative Director of moo) talking about fostering a friendly atmosphere for a site. By actively participating in a "community" the whole experience from the user to the staff fielding calls is improved. I lot of the talk was around community and public sites and was very interesting, perhaps a bit too long a session for the content but Denise is a very good presenter – I liked the humour and the accidental use of some…stronger language as it was heart felt rather than scripted. 8/10
[Edit] Forgot to mention the "canyon of despair" (smells too much like marketing speak for me 😉 ) which was a nice way of depicting the difference between a hold-you-hand easy application and an advanced bells-and-whistles application or rather that bit in-between the two where a lot of application want to live.

Day 2…

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