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Learning from GIANTs

In June, our beautiful town of Charleston brought together hundreds of usability, user experience, and design rockstars to talk about creating rad experiences themed around visual design, user experience, information architecture, branding, e-commerce and much, much more. Oh, and there was free beer.

It was GIANT

GIANT Conference presented attendees with 6 keynote speakers, 14 breakout sessions, 2 workshops, and 6 different kinds of ice cream to choose from.

During the days of hearing from the ultimate design rockstars such as  Aaron DraplinJared SpoolJosh Clark, and Ethan Marcotte I was a complete sponge, soaking up as much knowledge as one brain possibly could.

My world changed

Jared Spool’s inspirational speech expanded my thinking when he spoke about imitation vs. innovation. Innovation is not inventive, innovation is adding new value. “The unicorn is design’s most important innovation” Unicorns you say? How do you make a unicorn and is that a serious question? In Spool’s speech he touched on some core skills required of all experience and interface designers. These skills ranged from sketching to business knowledge to user research practices; all wrapped up into one beast. Hence the unicorn.

GIANT left me curious for more

My experience in the break out sessions presented these high points:

Learning Context in Design Research - Greg Bernstein

Data can be misleading. “What you see is all there is” explaining that data alone doesn’t give you context and that you need to get out there and get dirty! Whether that involves impelmenting surveys to gather research, analytics, usability testing, etc. Work hard and love this shit.

Embracing the Suck - Chris Harrison

Reminding us that great doesn’t happen overnight, and to always seek new opportunity. Make learning a priority.

Design Process - Jarod Ponchot

Discover - Design - Develop - Deploy. A well-known process throughout the industry. It is used to ensure familiarity, and consistency, of an outcome. When going through whatever process route we chose to run with, Ponchot reminded us to read between the lines. A key point was keeping everyone focused on purpose and content rather than steps and deliverables. Focus on real value and discover purpose, content, and style. Lastly, seek evaluation, not creation.

Regardless of all the parking tickets I’m sure many attendees received, the experience from GIANT is no less than positive. It was truly an unforgetable and invaluable experience. Let’s get out there and do rad work!

Miss out on the 2014 GIANT Conference? Worry not, they'll be back for 2015! Check out giantconf.com for more information.