Last week one of our web developers, Eloise attended the 2017 Web Expo in Guildford. Here's her run-down of the day...
Although nervous, I got settled in very quickly, meeting a variety of interesting people from web developers to product designers, events coordinators to animators. Taking my seat, I picked up the complimentary eye mask left on the chair and felt very curious as to what the talks would entail. Each presentation was significant for different reasons. All bursting with personality and inspiring insights, but similar themes ran throughout the day.
Gion-Men Kruegel-Hanna, group creative director at Head discussed authenticity in branding. He explained that when customers buy a product it’s a form of identity, meaning and belonging (think Apple vs Android) so it’s important for brands to build their authenticity into everything they create.
Authentic branding was also a key message from Steve Bartlett, The Social Chain’s CEO, who’s almost magical party trick of making anything trend on social media in 20 minutes, had everyone impressed. People are fed up of being advertised to. People hate to be sold to but love to buy so the new job of the brand is to be part of the real story, not interrupt it.
The future of tech
We’re on the brink of a new technological era which was touched upon in almost every talk. Mikela Eskenazi from Blipper gave an exciting insight into Augmented Reality whilst Samantha Kingston of Virtual Umbrella talked Virtual Reality. Both showing how the tech is helping develop more engaging experiences with brands and products.
But some looked even further. Often visualised as a dystopian future, Guy Armitage’s (Zealous founder) optimistic outlook of Artificial Intelligence was quite uplifting. He discussed how AI gifts us with time, letting us get on with more creative endeavours. Think about the mind blowing constructions on Minecraft for example – the stuff us humans create over time is astonishing.
Then there was Pete Trainor, Nexus founder, who harnessed the power of tech for good by using AIs to help young suicidal men. He encouraged us all with the powerful phrase: “Don’t design better, design better things”.
What came up time and time again was that “Content is King”. Even afternoon speaker Gion-Men Kruegel looked a little sheepish when a whole slide dedicated to the phrase came up in his presentation. He debated taking it down but kept it in as he explained “it is so right”, so on point and prominent in today’s world.
Tash Walker, The Mix Founder spoke heavily about a culture that produces way too much useless sh**. A typical store stocks 127 types of jam and if one was to eat a different pot each week, it would take over 2 years to get through. That’s a lot of Jam!
That’s when the eye mask came in. I put it on and a sound clip played of people chatting with constant pings and ringtones in the background. This is what 2017 sounds like. But because we’re exposed to over 500,000 useless marketing messages every day, ordinary has become extraordinary. The brands cutting through the noise are the ones that provide useful content – not more jam!
A great example of this is Monzo. Monzo’s Head of Internal product, Valerio Magliulo, summed up his talk in one key point “Be obsessed with your customers and your customers will be obsessed with you.” He showed how Monzo simplifies high street bank’s complex processes to create a better banking experience for people. With a live online demo to Monzo’s customer support chat, he showed how easy it was to change his address in a couple of minutes.
As political polls showed us last year, we’re doing more user research then ever but still getting it wrong. Conor Ward, Head of UX/Design at British Gas, provided an in-depth presentation on how to get user research right. Most times people will say anything just to give an answer. Observing behaviour on the other hand highlights problems people might not even realise exist and allow you to create more useful solutions. As Henry Ford once said – “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.
As the day come to a close I was left feeling incredibly motivated and inspired. I feel very lucky to have seen so many great speakers and learned so much from each one. A huge thank you to Kyan, Wirehive and all the sponsors who made this year’s WXG possible. We’re already buzzing for the 2018 event!