Interlink Conference

Last week I drove up I-5 and got to Vancouver to attend Interlink Conference. I was excited to attend because all the speakers were people I had followed a long time on twitter or on their blogs and I was finally going to hear them speak. All I have to say is that this conference was fantastic. Shawn does a great job of organizing and putting everything together and the day  of the conference I sat in my chair switching between writing mad notes or just being blown away by what was being presented.

Below are some of the things I pulled out of the day. I can honestly say that I have a lot to think about and I am so grateful that I was there and to Shawn for pulling together such a really great event. If you have the chance to go, do it. Vancouver is a fantastic city and the conference is completely worth the price.

We have a fantastic capacity to do so many things, but our process is asleep. Take a step back and look at how we work in our industry and in teams.
Faruk Ateş

Faruk started the day by talking about being responsive as people with our process and teams. Erin Kissane was next and her talk had me so engaged. But what I really took away from her was the knowledge that as I forge ahead looking for the type of projects and work I want to do that I am not crazy for thinking that working long hours is unnecessary. I don’t need to give up my entire life for something because this is my life. We can do great work and take the time to make it great. As Erin spoke of systems, she laid out five different things to think about and the two that grabbed me the most are “ship small, but excellent” and “respect the deep knowledge.” We can get to a world of systems that works for everyone, the creators, the makers and the users and we don’t have to do it all at once.

People will tell you that these values are naive and that isn’t how the world works, but that isn’t true. There is value in protecting this. If someone tells you this is for dreamers then they don’t have your best interests at heart. ‘You don’t want a career. You have life. Do the work.’ (Dear Sugar online advice columnist).
–Erin Kissane

Thank you Erin for reminding me that my desire for this is not crazy. That me wanting to have a life and do good work is the goal.

The rest of the morning was filled with really fantastic content from Matthew Smith and Jamin Jantz and then Jessica Hische. To be honest, their talks were filled with fantastic nuggets, but I don’t have a great way of summarizing. Other than saying that Matthew and Jamin encouraged me to think about how I work, the way I do the work and interact with people. As I grow my business I need to be aware of the right things in the relationships I build. Jessica reminded me to build things for myself and that for independents, being a specialized worker is a good thing, clients can easily tell what I do when it is one thing I do well.

Jina Bolton began the afternoon with talking about Sass and Less - a great intro to the two preprocessors but since I’ve used both and really honestly like them both for different reasons, I just sat back and enjoyed. She pointed me to some resources I wasn’t aware of, so on my next project I’ll dig in further than I have before.

Paul Boag was next and he did an amazing talk on eCommerce. Probably one of the best talks I’ve seen on that topic, mostly because they did so much user research and built the site for the users. The client saw an amazing growth of sales while they worked with Headscape and it truly proved the necessity of really great UX work to make sure your users can actually use the site and it works for them. In addition to this Paul pointed out how working well with a client can benefit both sides of the relationship so much. It was a pleasure to hear a talk that was focused on a successful client relationship.

Jon Tan spoke next about web type and I got a ton of good tips and also a bunch of things that I want to look into, I’m excited about the new things available with swashes and  I feel a bit better prepared to take that on now that I’ve had some explanations on good usage. Web fonts have come so far and it’s exciting to see what can be done now.

The day ended with Cameron Moll and it was the perfect ending. Cameron actually used an iPad and the Paper app to give his talk, jotting things down as he went through the points in his talk. He spoke about creativity, that illusive thing so many of us seek. My to-read list had grown over the course of the day and Cameron only added to that with so many juicy quotes read from various books. I loved the way that Cameron pointed out how so many of the things that we create are based on so many different ideas that came before us. We are constantly taking the things around us and rearranging them into something different. This reminded me heavily of Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. The way we can take things we read and see, put them all together and come up with something new. I felt like Cameron gave a peek into a common book with all the different quotes he pulled out of different sources.

Smaller flashes of inspiration are more important.
Share the messy parts of projects and creativity.
Sometimes you have to build the product it shouldn’t be to build the product it should be.
–Cameron Moll

Thank you to all the speakers for sharing your thoughts and to Shawn for putting it all together. I am excited to craft the web, to think deeply and to continue the conversation in other formats.