MK Geek Night #1 - Wot I Learned (Part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of the Wot I Learned series for the very first MK Geek Night. This time I'll be covering the three 5 minute sessions.

So, this time around we have James Parker on "How Twitter Made Me A Better Designer", Kate Kenyon with "Cut The Crap: Slash and Burn Your Way to Better Content", and Code Club with "Hacking the Future".

Let's see Wot I Learned...

Kate Kenyon - Slash 'n' Burn Content Strategy

For the first of the 5 minute sessions, Kate Kenyon talked about a slash 'n' burn approach to content strategy. Straight from the off, Kate announced that there would be no slides, everything she wanted to say was about to pour out from her brain. And so it did, and in a very effective and engaging manner too.

I came away from the next 5 minutes with a full page of straight-to-the-point notes, and a couple of great quotes:

Cutting your website in half can make it far better. No-one cares that the MD is blogging about his personal interests on a corporate site, so why put it on their in the first place? A corporate website must aim to get its users to complete their goal as efficiently as possible, and it's the job of the site (and therefore the content) to help the user to do this.

It's like hunting through 5 floors of Harvey Nichols when you just want to buy a birthday card

Lean content = just enough to get the job done. Steve McQueen used to take his line, cut it in half, and then be able to convey the same message with his acting. He'd cut it in half again and would still be able to do the same. If you have the ability to convey a message with fewer words, surely those people looking to complete a certain action on your site are going to find it much easier to do so, especially when they don't have to wade through all the crap extra content.

Let go of the extraneous content. If you can do this your website will become a greater business asset.

James Parker - How Twitter Made Me A Better Designer

A very punchy talk which was straight to the point. Actually, three main points:

  1. Confidence from a broader audience
  2. Have an opinion
  3. Improved research and development

These are the things that can make you a better designer (or a developer for that matter) when using Twitter.

Confidence from a broader audience - there's a huge amount of your peers out there, and pretty much all of them are happy to give you constructive criticism and to tell you how great your work is. Use that, but don't get cocky!

Have an opinion - Don't be afraid to go against the trends that appear. If you have an opinion, let it be known and make debate. You can always change your opinion, it is yours after all.

Improved research and development - For me, this has been the biggest influence in terms of my learning over the past couple of years. Endless links to great content, recommendations from your peers on tools of the trade and so much more. And if you find something yourself, don't forget to let everyone else know.

And mos importantly, dont forget to follow James Parker on Twitter!

 Code Club - Hacking The Future

Code Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

This was a good presentation that really made you want to get involved in the project. If only I could spare the time...

Anyway, the Code Club website can do far more justice to this project than I can writing about it here, so go take a look.


The third and final part of Wot I Learned at MK Geek Night will be along soon (preferably before the next MKGN on 20th September, you can get your ticket here) featuring the wonderful stage presence that is Mr Brendan Dawes.