En Route to BlendConf 2013

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At ReadyTalk, we’re provided with an annual budget to spend on conferences that pique our interest. I’m really happy that they’ve introduced this new budget (though it might need a few tweaks here and there) in the spirit of continued education and professional development. There’s also a great requirement that you give a Lunch & Learn after you return to share what you’ve learned with your colleagues. Pretty cool idea, huh? Since this new budget was recently introduced, I was looking for an interesting event to attend before the end of the year.

BlendConf 2013

Browsing Lanyrd (who was recently acquired by EventBrite), I stumbled upon BlendConf, a conference focusing on three main topics: UX, UI Design and Development. As a budding practitioner in all three fields, I instantly started planning how I could get to Charlotte, NC for the event.

The conference features a plethora of great talks over the two-day event (I’ll get in 12 talks for under $350 - not bad). The event is structured to have a simultaneous talks in the three categories (UX, Design, Dev) during each of the time slots. I’ve got a plan to hit at least a few talks in each of the categories, but there are a few subjects I’m particularly excited to learn about.

Generalist vs. Specialist

I plan to attend several talks on the topic of speciailization, with a slant towards becoming and staying a generalist. I definitely consider myself a generalist, something I had always attributed to being fairly early in my career. I’ve noticed that many of the younger developers I work with are more generalist, but those with more experience tend to specialize. I’ve always sort of considered this to be the natural progression of one’s career as you gain more experinece and gravitate toward particular tasks and projects. That being said, I have always seen a lot of value in trying new things and going outside of your area of expertise. I’m really excited to hear Leslie Jensen-Inman from the Unicorn Institute and Ben Vandgrift’s argument for maintaining a generalist status in today’s industry.

Investing in Delightful UX

There are several discussions around how to convince clients to make investments in providing a delightful user experience, even when there might be an easier way to accomplish the task at hand. This is something I’ve run into frequenlty in my freelance and business life. A lot of time, user experience is swept aside in favor of an easier, faster way to get a product out. I’m really interested to see how Garren DiPasquale suggests balancing the need to be “first to market” or “time efficient” with providing an excellent user experience.

No Devices

I was really, really surprised to hear that the BlendConf organizers are running the conference as a “No Device Conference”. You read that correctly. No laptops, smartphones, or tablets. I thought that this would be a big deterrant for a lot of people but, considereing it’s a sold-out affiar, it appears that people are OK with this. I think it’s a great idea, but I must admit that this is going to be a hard one to adhere to. I’m the first one to tell you that I’m addicted to my devices. It’s pretty bad. However, it will be interesting to disconnect for a few days and really listen to the talks and connect with the other folks attending.

I’ll follow up with interesting tidbits I’ve found from the talks, and how the conference went in general over the next couple of days. Stay tuned!

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Ben Limmer