10 things I learned at Edge Of The Web 2013 in Perth

This year’s Edge of the Web in Perth was again of the quality we’ve come to expect – some fantastic speakers, lots of interesting topics, and a chance to mingle with fellow Web industry professionals.

Here’s a few key points I took away …

1. Accessibility measures help the elderly too

As web professionals, we’re always thinking about how the websites we build will be used by people with disabilities, and we have a tendency to think of disabilities in terms of screen readers and the visually impaired. But think of the difficulty a huge number of elderly people have when trying to click links with shaky hands. I’m going to be paying more attention to making sure link targets are big enough to hit and can be accessed using the tab key.

2. Everybody loves WordPress

WordPress is officially the worlds most popular content management system. It’s easy to see why – developers love its simplicity, users love its simplicity …

3. Everybody loves (good) APIs

If you’ve got content or resources that others could use then opening this up to others by providing a good API (application programming interface) could give you a new income stream. A poorly implemented API isn’t going to do you any favours though and it’s worth investing in making sure it’s done well.

4. Measuring ROI is simple (in theory)

ROI = (Gain – Cost) / Cost. Seems easy enough. You put $1000 into an Adwords campaign, you get $4000 of new business, your ROI is 400%. Obviously, the simple part is calculating your costs: you know what you’ve paid Google for your campaign. Things get a little trickier when (as is the case with us) a new client could mean $500 or $50,000.  And, even more tricky when you’re looking at your costs, especially in terms of staff-hours, for things like social media campaigns.

5. Planned social media success

We see so many examples of social media campaigns that were fantastically successful by mere chance rather than strategic thinking. Social media is a game changer, but I’d rather give my clients examples that demonstrate planning rather than luck.

6. Outsourcing is scary but can work

We’re inundated with offers from companies in India to do everything from SEO to HTML. Of course, we’re not interested, because we’re all about quality, accountability and customer service. But, I came across my first case of someone who thought the benefit for his business outweighed the risk and is very happy with the result.

7. How to get a better design brief

Sometimes we get a client who has a very clear idea of what their ‘design’ should look like. Communicating this idea with the design team can be problematic. Dom Bartolo explained that the best design brief he’d ever received included descriptions of “what [the design] smells like”, “what [the design] tastes like”: an approach that some of our clients would love (and some wouldn’t!).

8. You can’t trust the media

You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to manipulate the media. Check out Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday and you’ll, quite rightly, start questioning everything you read in the media.

9. The Web is scary

Tools, scripts and resources are widely available that make it relatively easy for anyone to attack a website and deliver malicious code to anyone who stumbles across it. If you’re looking into website development, this is another reason to pay for quality and avoid the cheaper end of the market.

10. Web professionals are getting really annoyed

Which bring us nicely to the Australian Web Industry Association’s new Widelines project. Widelines aims to make it easier for people to find Web design and development services they can trust – as an ethical customer service oriented company, we’ve signed up.  Checkout www.widelines.org.

Posted in key2, Tech