Despite the tube strikes and horrendous February weather, the first Digital Pond meetup of the year was a roaring success; we attracted a full house of London’s top user experience (UX) designers, software engineers and entrepreneurs to soak up the knowledge and expertise of Andy Budd, Matt Gibson and Anna Dahlstrӧm.

On Thursday 6th of February, The Digital Pond kicked off 2014 with a bang; the brilliant line-up for part deux of our popular ‘UX strategies’ series of events drew record numbers to The Clerkenwell Centre, our brand-new venue just off of Goswell Road in Shoreditch. Our faithful Digital Ponderers braved terrible weather and a strike-ridden London Underground service to arrive in their droves to meet, learn and share ideas with other like-minded digital professionals.

The sequel was inspired by the success of the first UX meetup, which the Digital Pond hosted in September last year. The three keynotes focused on three different yet complimentary aspects of UX including “why design can be a competitive advantage” presented by Andy Budd, “Working better with clients” presented by Matt Gibson and “Designing around storytelling” by Anna Dahlstrӧm; we’ve done our best to recap our speakers’ wisdom below, as well as the slides and videos of their presentations.

Design as Competitive Advantage

Andy Budd was the first to steal the stage of the Digital Pond in 2014; as the CEO of User Experience at the Clearleft digital agency, he drew on a vast wealth of knowledge and experience to reveal how we can use design to seize the crucial competitive advantage.

The full video of Andy's talk.

Andy’s talk opened up the evening brilliantly, as he really hammered home the importance of quality design and how to ensure you are creating experiences which don’t only look good, but that actually make things better. By investing in great design, moreover the best design team you can afford, you will reap the rewards long-term with a solid foundation for an experience that will perform better over time.

“Good design is like a detective story; your workspace needs to look like a crime has been committed.”

Andy Budd's slides.

Working Better with Clients

Matt Gibson, Cyber-Duck’s very own Production Director was next to reveal his wisdom about how to build the best working relationships with clients; no doubt, using the wealth of knowledge and experience gained through working with Cyber-Duck’s fantastic clients.

The full video of Matt's talk.

While spinning some spot-on pop culture references and humorous anecdotes including personal experience and from ‘clients from hell’, he taught our Ponderers how we as designers can take more responsibility for the work we put into the world by creating a framework for working with our clients better.

“Clients aren’t super villains; a little bit of empathy, trust and communication can go a long way… they hired you to solve problems they cannot alone.”

Matt's slides.

Designing Around Storytelling

Anna Dahlstrӧm rounded off the evening with a mesmerising talk about creating stories and implementing them as part of the design process.

“We, as a species, are addicted to stories… if designers don’t have new stories to tell our users, then we might as well pack our bags.”

The full video of Anna's talk.

From childhood, we are brought up to learn through storytelling, and the best stories are the ones that stay with us. Stories appeal to the heart of every user and by implementing stories as part of a web design, you are likely to capture the imagination of your audience. Anna used some fantastic tips and examples about how to include the art of storytelling in design.

Anna's slides.

The event offered many insights and the atmosphere was electric. If you missed the event, be sure to follow The Digital Pond on Twitter for announcements of future events and join our 1000 members on the Meetup group.

Our Sponsors

The event would not have been possible without the support of the magnificent sponsors. Firstly a massive, massive thank you to hosting providers Rackspace for providing the venue, the. For all those who didn’t know Rackspace are the global leader in hybrid cloud and even offer free hosting to all start-ups for the first 12 months.

Email marketing solution Campaign Monitor laid out the refreshments and canapés for the evening. If you are looking to devise and send an email campaign, whilst tracking the delivery results and statistics, check them out! Also a huge shout out to our longest running supporters, Alliotts. The accountancy firm have got a wealth of experience working with digital agencies and startups, specialising in offering business advice and providing invaluable guidance when applying for R&D tax relief. Our guests were also spoiled by BalsamiqLoop11 and Rosenfeld Media who provided freebies, discounts and goodies!

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