EdUI 2009 Conference Workshops Recap

Scott StultsSeptember 24, 2009

What is the EdUI Conference?

The is a new conference held by the University of Virginia for the niche of web professionals in higher education. Do not let the tag line fool you. A good portion, if not all information, provided by on-the-front-lines professionals easily translates into other domains of business on the web. The various headlining speakers were all top notch.

I had the privilege of going to one workshop and visiting the condensed version of another. Both were wise investments of time. This website, my BHAG website (, and O.S.C. (opensource connections) clients will be able to reap the rich benefits from EdUI in the near future.

Workshop Beyond Blah Blah: Creating Great Content for the Web.

This great workshop was created by of , a company Mr. Poteet founded. The workshop was centered around the ‘best of’. Concentrating in areas of creating/writing great content and essentially it’s architecture.

Some of the sources used to put together the workshop were the “Wizard of Ads Trilogy“, Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath, and a white paper called “Designing for the Scent of Information” by Jared Spool. Anyone related to or responsible for marketing in your business should/must read the Wizard of Ads trilogy if they have not already.

The notes that I took from the workshop are pretty much in the actual slides. They center around 6 tips for developing and organizing content on your site. That being said: the notes and slides are pale in comparison to actually doing the workshop with David. We actually were lead through the KJ session, writing exercises, and more during the workshop. All of these were invaluable experiences.

Beyond Blah Blah: Creating Great Content for the Web. takeaways

See the notes are at the end of this blog**

Workshop New Insights In Web Standards

, former group lead of WaSP, co-author of The Zen of CSS design, and all around free spirit, did the workshop on new insights in web standards. The focus here was definitely on HTML5. The results of even the condensed workshop was eye opening.

Unfortunately, I was only able to see the condensed 2nd day version of this workshop. I generally keep tabs on emerging software technology, HTML 5 and CSS 3 being a few of those. I even read W3C specs, which read like legal documents on a good day.

The opportunity of getting the word of mouth version from someone like Molly, saves me a few headaches and hours of reading. Plus gaining another perspective from someone never hurts.

New Insights In Web Standards Takeaways

  • HTML 5 is an application markup language.
  • HTML 5 is here (partially). Google Wave is an HTML 5 application.
  • Backwards compatibility on the web is a must. (however this should be pushed more onto the browsers supporting old documents, not developers/designers)
  • The web means open standards, HTML 5 is pushing that, with forcing browsers to provide things like video and audio codecs, animation, etc.
  • First html spec that all browser vendors are behind, which is almost scary.
  • XHTML 2.0 and its w3 group is gone at the end of this year, no more xhtml. yes. i’m serious.
  • XHTML is considered to be a failure.
  • IE still slowing down the web. (Well we’ve know this for years, but it might be wise for everyone to charge extra to clients who require IE 6 compatibility or just render plain white document style content to IE 6 users).
  • HTML 5 will come in 2 flavors SGML/HTML syntax & XML.
  • Opera has the lead on HTML 5 completion, including web forms 2.0 at the moment.
  • Javascript is the glue of the web. (fellow Javascript developers, can we say job security?)
  • Designers who work CSS and HTML, will now have to be pseudo developers with HTML 5. For Hybrids like me who can do both, that is not a big deal. However being able to do design and development is a rarity. So this will place a burden on many who see themselves as designers.

My Notes from David Poteet’s workshop**

  1. Give them what they want.
    1. “people come to your web site running”
    2. what are you audience’s key goals.
      1. decide what is important.
      2. take away choices where i do not need them.
      3. make choices clear & distinct.
    3. how do you know what they’re looking for?
      1. listen to them.
        1. interviews & focus groups.
        2. social media sites, blogs, forums.
        3. search logs.
        4. mental models.
        5. carewords survey.
        6. KJ Session.
  2. Use words that smell like goals.
    1. Readers are like bees
        • people hunt for information like bees seeking nectar or hounds on the trail of a fox.
      1. “Scent” or “Trigger” words
        1. What worlds would be in someone’s mind if they were pursuing a particular goal? * information Scent Theory
    2. What they don’t do
      1. read left to right, top to bottom.
      2. look at all the options and choose the best one.
      3. Instead, they SCAN and SATISFICE.
    3. Write for scent
      1. each link needs to have a strong “scent for the content that lies beyond it.”
      2. 5-7 words are optimal.
      3. Users expect each click to lead to information that is more specific.
      4. when users click on triggers words, they expect to see those words on the next page.
      5. **Don’t let clever kill clear. ** Trigger words need to be readily understandable
      6. Users search when they can’t find the words on the page.
    4. Am I in the right place? Are your credible?, where can i go from here?
  3. Write “visually.”
    1. Do they ever read?
      1. yes, when they get to the content they’re looking for.
      2. % of the story read by format:
        1. 75% o
    2. Shorter sentences and short paragraphs
      1. in most cases not more than 50 words per paragraph
      2. one sentence paragraph is ok
      3. So are fragments.
    3. Lots of headings/sub headings.
    4. Using Images
      1. User pictures that mean something on context
      2. Use icons if meaningful.
    5. Meet users’ expectations for visual formats, for example:
      1. address
      2. game stores
    6. Use lists
    7. Use tables. collage mural
      1. data compare
      2. cross reference
      3. options
  4. Show don’t tell.
    1. give sensory details and substantive facts.
    2. let them come to their own conclusions.
    3. They’ll realize it with greater conviction.
  5. Not everyone thinks like you.
    1. Write for temperaments
      1. four temperaments
      2. Guardian(sj) idealist(nf), artisan(sp), rational(nt)
      3. Methodical, humanistic, spontaneous, competitive.
    2. Methodical
      1. details
      2. fine print
      3. how does it work
    3. spontaneous
      1. quickly
      2. superior
      3. customize your product/service
      4. narrow your choice
      5. enjoy life more?
    4. Humanistic
      1. How will the product make you feel
      2. who uses your product service
      3. who are you, let me see bios
      4. what will it feel like to work with you
      5. what experience other have with you?
      6. Can I trust you?
      7. What are you values?
      8. How will this help me strengthen relationships?
    5. Competitive
      1. What are you competitive advantages?
      2. Why are you superior choice.
  6. Say something they’ll remember (and care about)
    1. Left Brain vs Right Brain
      • logical vs intuitive
      • Sequential vs Chaotic
      • Objective vs Subjective
      • Analytical vs Holistic
      • Right or Wrong vs Likes or Dislikes.
      • Grammar & Vocabulary vs Intonation & Accentuation
      • Exact Numeric Computation vs Approximates, Estimates
      • Tempo, tone, & interval vs Music
    2. Implications
      1. Intellect and Emotion are partners who do not speak the same language. The intellect finds logic to justify what the emotions have decided. Win the hearts of the people.
      2. Keys to the emerald city
        1. storytelling
        2. the unexpected
        3. verbs
        4. poetic meter
        5. humor
        6. leave something to the imagination
      3. Storytelling
        1. we are hardwired to remember stories.
        2. Adrenaline is the biochemical adhesive that turns short term memories into long-term memories.
        3. Stores are a great way to both SHOW an idea and engage the reader mentally and emotionally, resulting in:
          1. transfer to long-term memory.
          2. Persuasion / conviction that something is true.
          3. motivation to act
        4. Who is your story about?
        5. simple
        6. unexpected
        7. concrete
        8. credible
        9. emotional
        10. stories
          1. the sooner you can put a verb in the better.
          2. put words to music.
            1. music enters through Right Brain, bypassing Broca entirely.
            2. Poetry allows us to put music to words in our minds.
        11. What do you remember?

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