The UX of Bus of Software 2009

I work up thinking it was an hour ago, and missed the train to San Francisco, so it looks like I will miss the last 3 hours of the conference.  Still, my opinion of the Business of Software conference is that it is the best conference I have ever attended.  Not that I have been to so many, but this one was just superb.

The Content
The speakers were everything I hoped.  Even beyond the brilliance of Don Norman and Geoffrey Moore, the other speakers were fantastic.  I especially enjoyed Ryan Carson, Kathy Sierra, Jennifer Aaker, Paul Kenny and Dharmesh Shah.  They were inspiring and thought provoking.  Issues ranging from creating a fun passionate office to being personally happy to making users really happy.  Happy, Happy, Joy Joy.  One guy explained how to hack Twitter to get massive traffic.  Ok, well that wasn’t all that happy.  Overall, the content was engaging and well produced.  The only speaker I found a bit annoying was the Microsoft guy.  Maybe because he answered my question about fixoutlook.org poorly.  He said they are sticking with Word as the rendering engine.  He also had a later version of MS PowerPoint 2010 than I do.  Grrr.

The Attendees
I was shocked every time I met someone.  They explained what they did and I thought to myself, “Why are they here?”  I thought it would be a room full of business software companies.  Well, I suppose you could widen the umbrella of what business software is and then I wouldn’t be surprised.  For example, One guy made a programming language that chip manufacturers would use to design chips.  I never would have thought that a conference about “Happy” would entice him.  Another guy was from a division of Fedex.  It was this strange variety of people from all kinds of businesses large and small.  I was continually surprised.

The Take-Aways
Sometimes you go to a conference and then bring the SWAG back to the office and say, “OK, what can I do with that new knowledge?”  I gave away my Snuggie (Sorry guys), but I am wearing the shirt.  However, the knowledge is sticking with me.  Several lessons are sinking in and I am figuring out how to incorporate them into my life.  The Happiness talk (Jen Aaker) is especially interesting to me and I will try to incorporate that into my personal life.  Ryan Carson’s list is something I want to try and spread around the room and my team in particular.  Overall, I am excited to use the information I received and teach others about it.  Thankfully Monifa (My co-worker) took good notes.

Summary
Great content, great location, great people with vibrant discussions.  I am extremely pleased.Maybe if I am lucky, they will invite me to give a longer talk next year.  I’d like to expand on concrete ways to get great UX in your products.

Quick aside: Last night, I met a guy from startuptodo.com.  I asked him what the site does and he went on for a bit about MicroISVs.  I tried to incorporate the learnings of the conference to help him tell his story better (Paul Kenny) and not carry the Curse of Knowledge too far.  I said, “Tell me gain, but as a story.  This guy, Jim, had this problem [enter problem here] so he came to our site and [enter what he did here].  10 minutes later he gets this message saying [awesome awesome awesome].  That’s what we do all day long.”  I am not sure if he ended up with the right story, but I hope I helped him a little.

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