Yesterday I attended my first dConstruct conference, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. My day started when I met Nick to put the PCs together for the Madgex stand, and we managed to get ourselves all set up before the doors opened at 9am. Between the 18 strong Madgex crew we manned the stall during all the breaks throughout the day, whilst still managing to attend all the talks - a great balance. We were there mainly for recruitment purposes, and so we'll see in the next few weeks whether that has worked or not.


The conference started with Glenn doing the introductory talks, managing a couple of mentions of Madgex and of course barcampBrighton over the weekend. He handed straight over to Jared Spool who spoke very engagingly about "The dawning of the age of experience". His was the first talk to mention the iPod/iPhone - a theme that proved to be very popular throughout the day. He also mentioned to get chicken sexing into his talk, before ending with a spot of magic.

After a short break, we then heard Peter Merholz on "Experience is the product". He used a lot of real product examples, including tivo, wii and palm pilot - all of which I've had and loved (and despite what he said, Tivo was available in the UK but not for too long, but the service is still running well). He explained how important characterisation of a product is and how important getting the process right was - often designs work from the data first, through the logic and into the user interface, where for a truly successfully product the reverse is more often the case. He said that he wanted to do the talk without mentioned the iPod, but he failed, and used the iPhone as a reference point too.

Next up was "Waterfall bad, Washing Machine good" by Leisa Reichelt which was all about managing products to succeed, and minimising the risks. Her slides were sheer genius - photographs of post it notes. Very innovative, very pleasing. The first part of the talk was a bit dull - rehashing the waterfall methodology and explaining what it was and why it was flawed - something that has been accepted for a long time. The second part became more interesting trying to mesh together agile with user centred design to produce a crossover discipline getting the pros of both methods.

Lunch time next, and a quick trip to my most frequent lunch spot of Pompoko.


The post lunch lull, or graveyard shift, was manned admirably by Cameron Moll, and his talk on "Good vs Great design". He had some really interesting points and was engaging, but my best memory is the brother number 1 shaving hair off the back of brother number 2s head with Mum's razor. One key takeaway for me was the concept of blurring a page layout, and greyscaling it to see what still stands out afterwards. He also recommended the "How Designers Think" book - as a developer do I need to know this, will it just scare me?

Next up was "Building a sense of place" which was an on the couch session with Denise Wilton and George Oates using their experiences of B3ta and Flickr. They chatted around a lot of areas, how the sites started, where they been, where they're heading. Jim blogged the gist of the conversation, so I won't bother rehashing it. I was amazed by the concept of the Faces of Sydney project that George mentioned, and somewhat concerned by the fact that the male face has a hint of David Beckham about it.

After another short break, it was Matt Webb talking about "The Experience Stack". This was my least favourite talk, and in my opinion his A - Z concept prevented a joined up, continuous talk as we jumped from space to space. He also used way too many big words which after so many talks with so much information and so many ideas contending for space in my head just left me a bit dazed.

The final talk of the day was Tom Coates talking about Designing for a web of data. Tom was excellent, and came across as being a really passionate kind of guy. My favourite quote was when he explained twitter as being "Twitter is a way to generate error messages on the web". He explained how important giving services for your data was - 90% of twitter usage is via APIs. He had some great points about designing your product to "play well with others" before starting to talk about fire eagle which looks like it'll be a great service, especially for me with my nice new shiny nokia 6110 navigator.

Then just the wrap up, with the thank yous and the prize draws, and I won the star prize. which I believe to be a copy of CS3 suite. Yay!


After a very rapid deconstructing of our stand and kit, and dropping it all off at the office, we headed to the after party, and proceeded to fail to eat any food, but to manage to drink quite a bit of beer. All in all a great day, with some great speakers and some amazing inspiration. My list of things to follow up on is pretty long!