Webstock has so much to offer. I could probably do a whole two day presentation about all that I have learnt from it over the years. But I won’t! Instead I will talk about the speakers who had the major effect on what I think is relevant to Careers New Zealand. Also, I have pick’n mixed messages from each speaker, and while I’ve tried to put together a narrative flow, this may be a little jumpy. Images I’ve used are all from Flickr that have been released under a creative commons license – you can see the username in the bottom lefthand corner.
The main point of Kathy’s talk is that we should build better users, not better products.
people don’t use Careers New Zealand because we are nice - they use our services because they want to develop their own skills. They don’t necessarily care about who we are at all. Sure, it’s nice that we’re ‘unbiased’, but that’s probably not their focus. They just want us for our hot juicy knowledge. So let’s make sure we’re delivering that to them.
As another presenter said “Don’t ask for likes – make products that are likeable”. If we want others to do our marketing for us, we need to demonstrate the value of what we do – and the consequences of not using us. Dum dum dum. We need to get better at showing why people should tell others about us. What’s the benefit of having a kid who knows what they want to be when they grow up? How does it make you feel whyen your friend gets off the dole and goes into training that they love? Those are the feelings we should emphasise to our influences.
It’d be nice if we could give our users literal headphones, But instead, let’s give them self awareness! A good knowledge of career paths will make people see opportunities they’ve never seen before. Through Know Your Skills, they can learn what they’re good at and then apply that when they’re looking for jobs. Let’s do more stuff like that! Know Your Skills is our metaphorical pair of amazing headphones!
Dinner party conversation shouldn’t be like “Today I sat on my ass all day surfing the net at a job I hate, doing nothing productive. It should be about people who love what they do, and who are actively contributing to New Zealand’s economy. Obviously this isn’t just about dinner parties – it’s social situations, and any kind of chit chat. Our equivalent - how can we get people to talk about our services at dinner parties. We also need to be able to check our privilege and say “how can we get people into work so they can even be able to afford to even host a dinner party in the first place!
And while obviously we need to use metrics to be accountable in some ways, there’s a risk that we can just get too caught up in the numbers. Are people spending long periods of time on our site because they’re learning? Or because they can’t find anything. And what happens when they log off? What do they do then?
Do we tell people enough that it’s okay to not know how to interview for a job? That they aren’t expected to be able to write a CV? That it’s a growth process? I think we can do all these things more. Do we even tell them it’s okay to not know how to use our website at first? Wilson Miner, another speaker, said that a nipple is the only naturally intuitive interface – everything else has to be learned. Are we prepared for that? We’ve got an aging population here in New Zealand, many of whom aren’t all that down with the internet. How are we going to offer our services to them when they retire but then realise they can no longer afford to live and need to get back into work?
We want people who have used our services to feel like they know what they are doing. After creating a CV, do they punch the air? Is it like the end of the Breakfast Club? Do they walk into job interviews feeling like they can take on the world? Because they should!
Dana’s talk was primarily about how to make websites (and services) that really capture people’s imaginations, while also serving the purpose they were designed for.
Our website uses formal language, crossed with strange little interactives that seem hidden away and don’t gel with the rest of the site. Is there a way we can make the site more welcoming overall? The picture is an example of the most welcoming product I have ever used – Moo cards. Here’s an in the flesh example. Read the box. SO ADORABLE. This is the sort of thing that I wanna share as far and wide as possible. Is there any reason why we can’t be a little bit more excited on our site? Why does our language have to be so austere?
Government needs to get better at this! I’ve been in this position trying to drag case studies out of people, and writing them up, only to have upper level management pull the plug at the last moment because they don’t want to talk about their failures. But guess what? WE ARE THE PUBLIC SERVICE! IT IS PUBLIC MONEY! If we share our experiences, and our losses, we can stop other govt departments from making similar mistakes and losing that money themselves. Australian example – 250,000 on virtual Flinders Lane. Do you talk to anyone in an equivalent role at another govt agency? Because you should.
it doesn’t matter what the design of our site is like, really, if we’re not actually delivering something of value. Why add videos and suck up more bandwidth unless they are actually making a difference? If people can come to our site, figure out what they want to do, complete a CV and send it off, that would make a beautiful day full of a sense of accomplishment.
Erin does content strategy consulting, and so she shared her expertise, comparing both content writers and designers to fine artisans, who deliver handmade beauty.
Erin used a really beautiful quote, that I think is something to think about. we are good at what we do, we will be able to think of different ways to do it. We should think of ourselves as craftspeople, not robots. In order to deliver truly beautiful work, we need to put some soul into it, and also a sense of pride.
are our web team too separate from marketing? When we want to do something different from a marketing perspective, why are we tied down to an antiquidated style sheet from the web team? We have an automated content flow process – have we lost the human touch out of it? And in fact, is National office too separate from the actual frontline staff? Are we still serving them? In a similar silo vein, are we doing enough with other government agencies?
Are we churning out too many job descriptions to focus on actual service? If we’re trying to serve all four million New Zealanders at once, does that mean our content has become too generic to actually be of any use to individuals?
Why is our content management system such an evil, limiting environment? I’m reluctant to suggest new ideas for the site given how frustrating it is to get things done within TYPO3 and also via the editing team. Has anything from the Ideas Hub ever actually been implemented?
do we have a similar model for our website? Or are we just using the organisation’s big vision without breaking it down into a smaller mode. Can someone tell me what Careers New Zealand’s mission statement is? Okay cool, what’s our web mission statement?
Lauren is part of how Webstock incorporates artists as well as just web geeks as speakers, because they are often the most thought-provoking. She spoke about the importance of story-telling, using both examples of her own work and others from South Africa.
Do we tell enough stories on our site? This is why I would like to create a fictional blog character about someone in high school who is going through various career decisions. Sorted.org did it a long time ago (2007?) about people’s financial journey – we could do the same with someone going through a career journey
Lauren used this great expression. Something to think about and a way of inverting the cliché about learning from history. What are our long term plans? Are we moving towards mobile? If we lose all our staff, what will we do? There is a HUGE web team here which is a luxury I’m scared we won’t get to keep for that long – and I have the same worries about our marketing team too. Thinking beyond our own job safety, we have an aging population here in NZ – what are we doing to prepare for that? Are we pushing people towards medical care careers, and writing Coronation Street plots and obnoxious columns in the newspaper about kids these days? Are we preparing enough for when we have to pick up the bill to look after all the old people?
Adam works freelance, so in this case, let’s just accept that New Zealand is our client – and also that we are each all our own clients to each other. Oooh spooky! Marketing serves the web, the web serves marketing. Let’s be good to one another!
You have skills. Who can you learn from in order to make those skills better? On a wider level, as a unique agency, who can we look to as examples of how to support the New Zealand Career system better? It’s all very well to use Moo as an example of things I love, but what we need is great NZ government websites to use as a role model. We need to identify other sites that are delivering services like do, instead of just being electronic versions of annual reports.
I would like to solve your problems, but you need to be clear what the issue is. If I write copy for you, and you tell me you don’t like it, that doesn’t help. If you tell me that you think I have taken too informal a tone, and I probably shouldn’t call our users useless creatures, that’s another thing. As another speaker said, you can think of the old improv cliché “yes and…” instead of saying “no” to things. At the same time, “Don’t like that? How about this?” – we need to have investment but not too much - be prepared to change. And just because you have been invited along to a meeting, doesn’t mean you NEED to say something has to change just to prove you’re still awake. Feel free to give stupid praise, but don’t give stupid criticism.
Obviously we are all experts in our own areas so we only ever get involved in something when we have something to add, right? Right? But with more input comes more problems. I think we’ve all experienced the many people offering helpful suggestions via email, without any one clear voice. Can we try not to do that? Let’s break decisions down by teams before they are released out of the team. Don’t tell me that Blair likes the idea but Felicity hates it. Tell me what the web team’s decision on something is, and what the next step should be.
Amy Hoy came on board at the last minute as a speaker after Garr Renyolds got sick. She’s spoken before, and was really, really awesome. When I typed up my notes from Amy’s talk, I used a lot of CAPITAL LETTERS. Because I really believed in so much that she had to say!
we can do this. We have lots and lots and lots of little success stories. There’s only one Steve Jobs. Yes, we should encourage people to dream big. But we should also encourage them to start off by dreaming small as well. And for us, let’s not talk about Steve Jobs AT ALL. Let’s find stories of local entrepenuers who we can talk about instead. Like Sam Morgan if we wanna go big, or local businesses if we want to be more realistic. For myself, I’m planning a series of blog posts interviewing all the people I know whose careers I find interesting.
Let’s suggest more that people can have hobbies or jobs on the side. Not everyone is going to be able to get all the satisfaction necessary in their lives at a 9am-5pm life. Not everybody would want an employee like that either. Ugh. And let’s look at night schools, volunteering, upskilling, making sure you’re taking advantage of inhouse training, and everything available to you. This includes YOU, dear Careers New Zealand employee. Are you happy? Are you doing enough to keep your brain busy?
Are there more ways that we can encourage our end users to tell stories? I don’t just mean some generic quotes on the company profile either. Do we do follow up with the people we’ve helped? Or do we just send them out into the universe to do the best they can and never hear from them again?
Amy used some examples in her talk about how some barriers people had come up against in their work. She spoke about Ludwig, who was one of the Webstock volunteers, who was told at age 16 that he was too young to organise a barcamp in Auckland – but 60 people turned up. She also used the most ludicrous story in the world, how the events company Webstock worked with early on had tried to fire Tash as a client. EVERYTHING TASH WRITES IS LIKE A BIG GIANT HUG.
This is my desk. It’s a remind to me to put love into what I write, and to try and do it as relateably as possible. Even if I’m writing the most boring thing in the world, I want the reader to feel good about it when they’ve finished reading it. ……… . Now I’m going to leave you with two more things to think about.
The amazing calibre of speakers at Webstock really emphasied to me how dreary Powerpoint can be. I don’t think it’s necessarily very effective or efficient to have lots and lots of words on screen. I’m hoping you agree with me on that.
I’ll leave you with some cheerful closing words from Amy Hoy. LIVE A LIFE YOU CAN BE PROUD OF!!!! For me, I’ll be proud if this talk has encouraged you to think a bit more about ways we can do differently. We have so much potential here at Careers New Zealand, let’s use that potential to help others live amazing lives too.
Lessons from Webstock ‘12
Lessons from Webstock ‘12Subtitle: stuff we could do a little betterSub-subtitle: why are there more questions than answers in thispresentation?
This is just a tiny little sample of what’s on offer Flickr: sean_hickin
Kathy Sierra: MBU: Building the Minimum Badass User“The key attributes of a desirable product dont live in the product. They live in the users. Find out how to design and build the MBU” Flickr: webstock
People don’t buy your product because they like you. They buy the product because they like themselves. Flickr: kalavinka
Likewise, people don’t tell people about your products because they love you. They do it because they love their friends. Flickr: DaBok
A really amazing pair of headphones will make people hear things they haven’t heard before in music. Flickr: pauladupont
How can we make people become more interesting at dinner parties? Flickr: abbyladybug
It doesn’t matter how much time people spend on your site. All that matters is what happens when the clicking stops. Flickr: aaronjacobs
EMBRACE THE SUCKING!You’re not an idiot, you’re a learner! Flickr: Zen
Upgrade your users. Activate people’s super powers! Make people feel awesome! Flickr:thegreengirl
Dana Chisnall: Deconstructing Delight: Pleasure, Flow, and Meaning“There’s a vast difference between designing an experience that doesn’t suck and one that drives engagement.” Flickr: Webstock
If you create something that is consistently pleasant and thoughtful, that creates delight. Create a remarkable experience by being nice! Flickr: krystianmajewski
Learn from earlier versions of sites and mistakes of others.
Think about where does your design fit into a beautiful day? Flickr: Yourdon
Erin Kissane: Little Big Systems“Via the craft of content strategy and its intertwinglements with design and code, this talk follows the connections between making small-scale, handcrafted artifacts and designing big, juicy systems (editorial and otherwise) that encourage both liveliness and excellence.” Flickr: wasabicube
“A craftsman’s hands are awake to possibility.” Flickr: tonyjcase
We can’t let our craftspeople be separate from our systems people Flickr: richardmessenger
We need to return to a workshop approach rather than a factory.
If I ever meet TYP03 in a dark alley, it will be in SO MUCH trouble…Anyone inside a system is a user, not just the customer. If we don’t serve the makers, we’re doing a disservice to the end user as well.
Refine your content model!1. “We will serve world-class content for plant lovers” becomes…2. “Publish uniquely helpful content for first-time plant buyers” becomes… 3. “We’ll tell you what plants won’t die easily, which ones you may like, and profile a different plant every week.” Flickr: verzo
Lauren Beukes: Kinking Reality“Fantastical storytelling is at its most potent when its anchored to reality. Lauren Beukes talks how storytelling that re-imagines where we are has the ability to tell us more about who we are.” Flickr: wasabicube
We understand the world through story-telling.Fiction is a way of modelling behaviour. Flickr: prathambooks
“Those who cannot image the future are doomed to fuck it up.”
Adam Lisagor:Being creative for peoplewho pay you moneyFlickr: wasabicube
Work with people who are better.Form a justice league. Flickr: Budha-jeans
There’s a difference between opinions, and people who identify problems and want to find answers. Flickr: hunter0405
If you’re the spokesperson for a committee, speak with one voice! Flickr: tanakawho
Amy Hoy: Change the GameIf anyones ever told you, "You cant do that," youre playing the game. If youve ever had a flash of insight, a sudden desire to do something, and then told yourself "Thatll never work," youre playing the game. If you feel like youre being nibbled to death by ducks — slowly, painfully, irritatingly — then chances are high youre playing the game. We all play the game. Its just that most of us never realize were playing it. But when you learn to spot the game in all its manifestations, you can change it. You can change everything. Flickr: Webstock
Talk about the mundane stories of conquering! Much more relevant than talking about Steve Jobs Flickr: portorikan
It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. Flickr: theeerin
Listen to stories! Tell stories! Flickr: wickenden
Tash was told that her writing is unprofessional and like bubblegum… Dear you, Thank you for coming last week. Its a real privilege for us to put Webstock on and an honour to have you there. That you allow us to create Webstock each year - well, were deeply, madly, truly grateful. We so hope you liked it.Natasha Lampard writes the best communications in the world.FACT. Flickr: DrWave
If you take nothing else from this:• Let’s talk about Powerpoint presentations.• Why does everyone put so much information on one screen?• And then they read it all out to us as they go through each point one by one.• I can listen to you, or I can read.• By now, chances are I’ve tuned out.• My gosh, are you still talking about this one thing?• You lost my attention ages ago. Now I am focussing on your misplaced apostrophe.• Are you just reading your notes off a piece of paper?• Did you consider maybe adapting your presentation to be more appropriate to your audience and how they are reacting to you?• Oh no, there’s still more bullet points to go!• If there is this much information that is vital to convey to me, perhaps a handout that I could read in my own time would be more useful.• Seriously, there’s a reason it’s nice to meet face to face. Having to read a screen is not that reason.• So maybe we could use fewer words in Powerpoint, and more actual presenting in our presentations?
Remember you will die. Flickr: ladoblea_producers
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