Webstock 2017

Posted by Gina K on 13 March

Renowned as the technology conference with soul”, two of Bilue’s designers, Amy and Anna, took off to Wellington this February to get the latest in the world of design and development. They returned refreshed, revived and replenished with ideas and stories thanks to Webstock and the city of Wellington itself.

Despite being touted as ‘windy Wellington’, the air was crispy and still. The bright-faced UX passionates gathered at St James Theatre where the conference would take place over the next two days. Webstock’s details were finessed with attention and taste; branded mugs and t-shirts, the abundance of ice-cream sandwiches divine, the stage lighting and setup was clear and colourful. Even the conference credits were considered by including every attendee’s name as though they had all watched a film they were all a part of.

The lineup included an array of speakers with vast experiences. Despite differences in expertise the most memorable talks demonstrated ways in which we, when working in tech, can step outside of our sometimes silo-mentality. Opening our ears, eyes and skills to the processes and people around us, biases can be deconstructed and ideas met with innovation.

The Conference Stage at St James Theatre
Some key notions included

- Kim Goodwin spoke about avoiding UX purgatory. Working across the journey designers can expand their point of view by focusing on the transition between experiences. It’s about ensuring what happens before and after ‘your part’ makes sense and is communicated as smoothly as possible. This comes down to the idea that we’re people and not just roles.

- Jeff Gothelf gave insight to how bigger organisations can scale Agile and Lean UX methodologies at scale. He focussed on four key principles to keep in mind when doing so;

               -  Customer Value = Business Value

               - Value learning over delivery

               - Radical transparency

               -  Humility in all things

- Gothelf emphasised that internal teams already want to work this way, it’s up to decision makers in the business to carve out an environment for teams to work in this way.

- Sacha Judd discussed the biases inherent within the hiring process. This included pattern-matching experiences with those we may onboard and therefore limiting selection.

Sacha also outlined how the stigmas surrounding the tech industry prevent people with relevant skills from feeling welcomed. She used the example of fantasy fiction, mostly millennial One Direction fans who have contributed to popular websites to feed their fanbase. When asking these fans if they would ever work in tech they scoffed ‘no’, however most of these kids possessed coveted industry skills.

Overall Webstock withheld their high reputation and offered insights into a broader scope of the tech landscape. Despite an incident of misconduct with one speaker on the final day, the appropriate response reflects the conference’s commitment to positive values that reflect the future of technology being inclusive, respectful and most of all, aware. We look forward to attending next year!

Ammy and Anna on a hill in Wellington