March 21, 2016
We attended many impressive sessions during our time at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference last week. The festival is a showcase for all things tech, and we were inspired by the exhibits, gadgets, and experiences that filled the city of Austin, TX. We focused on sessions in the Design and Development track including: “Fast and Rigorous User Personas,” “Checkbox That Ruined My Life,” and “Designing for Smartwatches.” We found it interesting that several themes emerged from the design sessions, regardless of the session title and topic.
As predicted in our “Tech Innovations to Watch in 2016” blog post from early this year, the Internet of Things was one such theme, specifically in regard to wearables. Most tech users have transitioned from desktop to mobile, and the next transition from mobile to wearable is happening now. Smartwatches and fitness devices remain the most widely-used items in this network of physical objects embedded with technology.
I recently returned from my third trip to South by Southwest – SXSW. I haven’t seen official stats, but it felt like larger swarms of people descended on Austin for this year’s Interactive portion of the SXSW festival. Some people say larger swarms mean more buzzwords, as modea.com depicts in their slick infographic (http://www.modea.com/buzzwordbingohd/sxsw/). The larger number of participants certainly didn’t mean more variations in advice from C-level keynote speakers. When asked, “If you could give one bit of advice what would it be?”, their response was overwhelmingly, “Follow your dream.” One can only think these speakers spent their time working on other portions of their talks and were blindsided by this cutting question.
But SXSW didn’t disappoint. I went to the festival to learn more about how other people build great products, and I walked away with insightful advice and a peace of mind that InspiringApps is on the right track. I had the opportunity to listen to leaders in the mobile-consumer-application space talk about how they get closer to their user base and how they assemble their teams.
Hands down my favorite part of SXSW is the people I met. This sounds cliche but it’s true. I had an opportunity to meet people from across the country and world, who have built and are building companies similar to InspiringApps.
It’s hard to quantify the knowledge you walk away from SXSW with. You suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) the entire time you are there. Then you sit down on the airplane headed back to the ‘real world’ and your eyes gloss over from all the information you have jammed into your head over the last several days. One thing I know for sure, I arrived home with a new level of passion and appreciation for the work I get to do every day and the people I get to do it with.
As a seasoned, or more aptly stated, return SXSW Interactive attendee, I vowed to do more research this time around. Really scour the schedule, plotting out every session. Suddenly I found myself days from getting on a plane for Austin and realized I had put 15 minutes into my research, clearly not enough. I was beginning to feel a little stressed about my lack of planning until @miles_matthias sent me an article written by a SXSW pro, which very clearly stated that any sort of planning was fruitless, so now I could relish in my spontaneity of panel picking and relax.
March 23, 2011
Looking back at SXSW, I found the most success in the least expected places. The panels that I was least excited about ended up impressing me the most. They were not the most highly attended or flashy, but they were spoken from one start-up to another.
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