Big Design Dallas Day 2 Recap

By Kelly Nercess

Overall words to describe the Big Design Conference 2014: Jam packed, smart people, memorable and, of course, Phil freaking Tippett. In case you don't know this legend by name, he's been the visual effects creative mind behind on Star Wars and Jurassic Park! Here's the highlight reel on Day 2 to close out this exciting two day conference.

Do You Trust Me Now?: Content Convergence in the Age of Social Media by Rahel Anne Bail @rahelab

Rahel talked about having a content marketing strategy. The quicker your company realizes that everyone is a brand ambassador, the more successful you'll be. A couple takeaways:

  • Unless we’re creating content meant for social validation and social interaction, we’re not doing it right.
  • Social media is not the same as social business. One-way communication is not social. It's advertising.
  • Customers may claim that they don’t care about social in business context. They’re in denial.

Give a hoot! Mapping (and caring for) the Semantic Environment by Jorge Arango @jarango

This lively (and academic talk) had audience members shouting "Give a Hoot!" throughout the presentation in order to confirm salient points. Jorge taught us how human beings react to and derive meaning from language and the nuances of context. For example, responsive has a different meaning for web designers vs medical device developers. Be thoughtful about the semantic environment in your writing.

The Design of Content: Strategies for Lasting Impressions by Keith Anderson @suredoc

Keith argues the point that the design and reading experience has been improving since the 1450s. He takes his theories from Gestalt psychology, the idea of what the eyes take in the mind will process as a whole. Takeaways from the presentation include:

  • Content strategy can be defined as the art AND science of controlling the creation, storage, maintenance, and dissemination of words and their associated assets and context to be congruent with an organization's goals.
  • The User Experience movement has simultaneously helped and hindered how we communicate.
  • Our job as content writers is to anticipate readers' expectations and provide them with quality content within a context perspective.
  • Take your content seriously. Write and design with a purpose.
  • Take the time to conduct reader research. Build profiles, conduct surveys, and make sure you understand what they expect from you.

Body Language: Hidden UX Insights from Body Language by Brad Nunnally @bnunnally

Brad cited scientific examples that included the fact that human beings make decisions 7 seconds before they physically communicate them. If we can focus in on body language we'll get an early indication and non-verbal confirmation from our qualitative work.

Lights, Camera, Interaction: Design Inspiration from Filmmaking by Adam Connor @adamconnor

We're not filmmakers but in the interest of broadening our horizons we decided to take a closer look. What a treat to step outside the walls of marketing and UX-concentrated workshops to learn more about design in film-making. Adam took his passion for film and his experience in design to share his unique perspectives. Fun fact: Designers with a creative vision are often not put in the position to manage. There is a big difference between leadership and management. Here are some facts we came away with:

  • Leadership is about vision and inspiration towards the future of that organization.
  • Management is to keep things together and MANAGE the organization, not necessarily lead the creative path.
  • Scenarios are the interaction between a persona and a use case.
  • Mise en Scene: All of the tools other than dialogue, used by a filmmaker to tell a story (everything to design the scene that does not include any actual conversations).

Lessons I Have Learned from Leading UX Designers by Russ Unger @russu

This talk was brimming with great leadership advice that can be applied to any process. For now we'll just share our favorite quote:

A leader is best when people barely know that she exists

when her work is done and her aim fulfilled they will say - we did it ourselves - Lao Tzu

You'll have to wait for the blog post for the good stuff.

Headlines, HBO, and Harry Potter: A Case for Context by Justin Smith @xenoabe

Justin can win the award for most compelling topic title. Yes, he did briefly discuss Harry Potter and HBO and how they relate to compelling context. The audience also got to watch a very touching TD Bank commercial, which proves the case that meaningful context can really draw the emotions you are seeking for from your viewers.

  • Context is the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement or idea, in terms it can be fully understood.
  • Context is like a green screen.
  • Sometimes you don’t want to give it all away in your headline. You want to be mysterious It's ok to play with the user and some fun with your messaging.

Mitigating Scope Creep: Useful Tips for Project Peace by Michael Vaughn

Another good tactical approach presentation. Our top takeaway here centers on taking accountability when you start a project. Accountability for your company AND for your client. If you have a clear understanding of your roles then it's easier to maneuver the project segues when they happen....cause they WILL happen.

Why Photos Rule The Internet by Tony Cecala @tonycecala

Companies like Target, Starbucks, UPS and Fedex have such a strong brand image that their logos can do all the talking. From passing a billboard in Times Square or swiping through your newsfeed on Facebook, you'll recognize the logos of these brands. It's a brilliant visual communication tool....once you have that kind of brand recognition.

  • When building an identity for your logo and image, put a fair amount of consideration in to the design and colors you choose.
  • Memes have become a popular way brands can communicate with a younger audience.
  • Text and image-based posters used for political campaigns were memorable prior to the internet and can be considered a “meme” (think Uncle Sam).
  • Facebook beats out Instagram, Snapchat and Flickr as the #1 outlet for photos and images to share your life with your friends.
  • Tweets with images get 150% more retweets
  • Tweets with images get 18% more clicks

Produce Like Picasso by Brian Sullivan @brianksullivan

We have one word for Brian's presentation to close out the workshop portion of the conference: INSPIRATIONAL. Brian delivered a compelling presentation on the much-admired artist, Pablo Picasso, and showed us how to apply Picasso's work ethics into our daily lives. Here is the secret, it is 5 Ps:

  1. Passion
  2. Purpose
  3. Proficiency
  4. Persistence
  5. Partnership

Our keynote closer was Phil Tippett and for this crowd it was quite a treat. Phil is best known for his VFX work on some of Hollywood's most beloved movies including the Star Wars triology and Jurassic Park. It's no wonder he's crowd favorite at Big Design. We were struck by his opening statement that he isn't a digital designer at his core but a student of art history. He loves making things with his hands and is still committed to stop motion animation. It was a nice ending to a great conference.

We'll be sharing more opinions over the next few weeks so stay tuned if you want the inside scoop on BigDesign Dallas 2014.

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