SXSW Interactive is Coming … Please Vote!

SXSW Interactive is a very cool conference … and I have a couple of chances to speak!

Here’s how it works – everyone with session ideas submits those a couple months in advance. Then the fine SXSW folks put up their SXSW Panel Picker. The Panel Picker is a cool idea – people planning to attend the conference actually get some say into what sessions will be held – how cool is that?

It’s pretty easy to vote on sessions. First, go register … then vote – there’s a thumbs up/thumbs down button! You can also leave a comment on each session (you have to register to do this stuff – but it’s free, so that’s cool).

This year, I’m listed twice:

Designing Your Customer’s Digital Experience
Visitors to an organization’s digital space don’t want to think about interacting with a website. They want to make a purchase, find an answer, or connect with someone – they want to have digital experiences. David introduces digital experience design for websites, and explains how website structure, community, and customers are parts of the total digital experience. This one’s obviously focused on my book. I’m hoping to do either a normal session or an author talk (they separate those from the main sessions). Either one would be cool.

Curating Cultural Content – Libraries Save Your Ass & Etchings
How are libraries responding to the firehose of cultural content when deciding how to curate digital media? What does it mean to be an online archive or library in an age of user-generated content? Librarians, quasi-librarians and techies will share tips ideas and the usual horror stories. Jessamyn West submitted this one – I’m listed as a panelist.

So – go vote (ok – only vote if you really WANT to hear these presentations)! And go to the conference. I guarantee you’ll learn something, and meet some interesting people, too.

Presentations in Garland, TX

Garland libraryLast Friday, I spoke at the Nicholson Memorial Library System in Garland, TX (a suburb of Dallas). It was a fun time – nice library, great people wanting to learn new things. Can’t beat that!

I spoke at their annual Staff Day, and gave two presentations: one on emerging trends, and one on change (both whopping 3-hour presentations). Both are embedded below.

Towards the end of the day, we poked around on the web a bit, and played with some of the websites I talked about in the presentations. So – for the Garland folks – here’s a list of websites we played with:

And for the presentations (fyi – for those wanting to see both presentations, click through to the actual post. For some reason, posting two embedded Slideshare presentations in the same posts makes the second embed disappear int he RSS feed version of my post):

And the afternoon presentation:

Fishing in the Rivers of Change … While Wearing Your Hip Boots

View more documents from David King.

Thanks, Nicholson Memorial Library System!

Writing an Experience Brief

Designing the Digital Experience was reviewed!I just realized that I mentioned using an Experience Brief in my book and in some of my presentations, but haven’t explained much about actually writing one. Since it’s something I want to do for my library’s website, I decided to do some “how-to” research on writing experience briefs … here’s what I found.

First of all – what exactly is an Experience Brief? It’s related to the Creative Brief, from marketing land. A Creative Brief is used to succinctly describe all the stuff the creative group plans to do to promote a new product. An experience brief uses that same concept … but helps define the experiences a customer should experience while using your website.

An Experience Brief is summed up by 8sharp: “The Experience Brief goes beyond “look and feel” and asks, “What is the experience we want the user to have?””

37signals’ ebook, Getting Real, gives another brief taste of what an Experience Brief is all about. “So what should you do in place of a spec? Go with a briefer alternative that moves you toward something real. Write a one page story about what the app needs to do. Use plain language and make it quick. If it takes more than a page to explain it, then it’s too complex. This process shouldn’t take more than one day.” They don’t really mention writing an experience brief … but writing a one page story about what the app/website needs to do IS a way to focus completely on the experience of the site/app.

MJ Braide goes a bit further in Get More From Brand Strategy Part Two: The Experience Brief. Here are some relevant quotes from the article:

  • “The Experience Brief is designed to help focus on the experiences that have the greatest impact on those that matter most to you. It begins with an inventory of the major interactions with whomever you consider to be your most important audiences.”
  • “For each of the most important groups, target experiences are defined that are closely linked to the brand promise. Important: this is about THEM not about YOU. It is the impressions, feelings and beliefs that you want to occur in THEIR minds, through what you do.”
  • “As with the Creative Brief, the Experience Brief is then used by every division and department of the organization to inform service standards, interaction protocols and whatever else the playbook demands, based on your strategy and the economics of your relationships.”

Finally, some words of advice from Advertising Age – What Are You Packing Into Your (Creative) Briefs?

  • Think simple. The more sophisticated the brief, the simpler it should be. The more glissandi and grace notes the piece has, the harder it is to play.
  • More spaces to fill present a greater opportunity for bad poetry. Avoid theoretical definitions; keep the language at the 8th-grade level.
  • It’s been suggested that you’ll know you’re onto something big when you can pitch the story in under 30 seconds. Can you deliver an elevator speech for your product? Are you writing it to be read?

Hope this helps! ANyone have anything to add? Do you know what goes into writing either an experience brief or a creative brief? Ever written one? Please share!

Dealing with Comments on your Website

First, a bit of backstory: my library is going to start charging late fees. Wow – exciting, David! Most libraries do that! Yeah, yeah – I know. But we haven’t had a late fee for 35 years or so, so it’s a bit of a big deal in Topeka right now. We’re starting to share our plan with our community, and one obvious place to share has been on our library’s website.

Guess what? People have been sharing back. Quite a few (check the comments! It’s interesting reading). That one post, so far, has gathered a whopping 89 comments (a first for us). Comments by 36 people, mostly from customers (there’s about 7 library staff who have chimed in, including me). One customer has posted 14 comments! It’s been a rather hot blog post for us.

Here’s how we’ve been handling our comments:

  • Normally, the blog author (ie., library staff) get an email when there’s a comment on their post, and they respond to the comment – thank the person for commenting, answer questions, etc.
  • Once in awhile (as in this particular blog post), the questions are passed off to appropriate staff to answer (if you look through the comments to the post in question, you’ll see that happening).
  • I actively monitor comments (that’s part of my job)
  • When there’s a misperception or misinformation being shared, we correct it
  • If there’s a personal attack (which has happened twice so far), I step it and email the person individually, telling them that they’re welcome to post, please stick to the topic, and stop attacking others…  then I also post a comment on that blog post stating what I did and why. We’re going for transparency.
  • If there’s a comment that’s highly inappropriate, I delete it (there’s been one so far).
  • And we delete spam comments.

Otherwise, we let it go – after all, we created an open forum, and people can say whatever they want (for the most part). I am also working on some online Community Discussion Guidelines. We’ll probably put a link to them somewhere around our blog comment box. It’s been an interesting lesson in online forum management for me!

Why are we putting ourselves through this? Why don’t we just close comments and move on? Because we are in control of the conversation. Think about it. If people were talking about this issue on their own blogs, the library might or might not be able to respond. If people were discussing this on the newspapers editorials/comments (which they have been), we’re not in control of that conversation either – the newspaper is.

But when the conversation happens on our website … then we’re in control. We can correct misinformation easily, and point to the correct answer. We can add phone numbers, email addresses, etc. We can even email the commenter individually (assuming they used a valid email address).

This allows  us to hold the conversation in “our building” – on our digital branch. One of my co-workers recently said she was putting on her fireman’s hat when we started getting negative comments. I reminded her that she was right – but we were doing a “controlled burn.” Because we’re in control of the conversation.

Have you had similar experiences with your organization’s blog and/or website? If so, how have you handled:

  1. lots of comments?
  2. inappropriate comments?

I’d love to know!

Pic by Vetustense

Idea from Designing for the Social Web

Just read/skimmed Joshua Porter’s book, Designing for the Social Web (Voices That Matter). In all, it’s a good book that has lots of great ideas for building social sites. The book focuses first on defining what the social web is, and then spends the rest of the book discussing design and interface problems for the social web, and how to fix those things.

One idea I wanted to share (and to remember for my own future use) is this, from page 34:

“So how do you avoid feature creep when creating and adding features? Start with your objects, your nouns. Observe all the actions people do with/perform on those objects, and those are possible features for your application.”

So, for example, a list of nouns or objects might be Videos, Articles, Photos, and Books. The Verbs, or actions, for Articles include things like this: read, archive for later, quote, link to, share, comment on, annotate, etc.

Cool idea! So – when building a new website or web app, this is a great way to figure out what it should do, and what features it should have (and what features people will potentially ask for, too).

pic by Ben Dodson