BlendConf 2013 poster on an easel in a hotel hallway

Blend Conference 2013

They say the right thing happens at the right time. I had the pleasure of working with Bermon Painter while he was organizing this event. What attracted me was an interactive driven environment and a multidisciplinary schedule. The notebook handed out to all attendees became full. I’ll do my best to summarize the experience and the longest lasting take aways.

Workshop Day

Think Like a Startup

It was everything you learn at Startup Weekend compressed into 2 hours and with a twist. Each person listed their own values and those were pooled to create group values. If I had not taken my sabbatical I could not have expressed those values I bring to my work and client projects. With an engineer's mindset, I did struggle with the undefined nature of the product creation. Thru the experience I found creating a product from place of heart is powerful.

Service Design

I had heard never heard the term before paying attention to Patrick’s Quatttlebaum’s slides. It examines operations, culture & organization for impacts on the customer's experience. Uber (that secretly launched in Charlotte during the conference) was an example. They looked at the taxi/hired car experience. Uber examined what do customers want, what do employees want, what are the operations that need to be in place to please both.

VIP Dinner

This evening set the tone for the conference conversations I had later. This was going to be the kind of conference many attendees would write up. I found myself wondering how to have something unique thing to write. Asking my table companions what they had been reading was the theme I hit upon for everyone I spoke to.


Reviewing my notes of the talks I scribbled down was a lot of practical advice. Sometimes conferences can have a lot of inspiration and not a lot of application. Here the useful chunks here sprinkled like breadcrumbs along the trail. I learned a lot from Ashe Dryden’s session Programming Diversity.

I took no notes during Carl Smith’s talk because he's such a great speaker. Just let him tell you about Your Money or Your Life. The video isn't from BlendConf but it's the same talk.

He's my favorite client, hands down. How often do you get emails that are all caps that say MORE FUCKING LIGHTNING?" James White

This post title comes from James White's talk about being a Design Renegade. I was able to find it from another conference. The relevant story starts at the 41:38 mark. As a developer I would say it is more diffult to apply his lessons, but he’s inspiring and entertaining.

Become a Better Designer with Side Projects

Convincing Clients Without (Much) Bravado

  • Plant Seeds for what is best
  • Prescriptive Feedback “sounds like the problem you’re trying to solve is…”
  • Give 2 Options You Can Live With

Hybrids Rule Everything Around Me

The Nuances of UX

  • Aim for design that doesn't get noticed
  • Design problems stick out
  • Features & version numbers don't improve the experience
  • Sell the experience

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