Speak the Web Liverpool – July 2013

I attended the first Speak the Web in Liverpool back in 2010 and looking back on it, I see it as a real milestone in my career. It really inspired me and was influential in both the decision I made to setup my own business and also to start the Shropgeek (R)Evolution conferences.

So as you can imagine I was really flattered and very excited to be invited to be a part of it this year. That was until I saw the lineup for Liverpool….

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 12.16.45

Dan Rubin, Harry Roberts and Tim Harbour are all really talented people and I really admire the work they do, so I admit, I was feeling a little intimidated. I’ve spoken at a couple of web conferences before but recently most have been within the WordPress community rather than the web community in general so it meant stepping outside of my comfort zone.

The talk

What I chose to speak about in the end was “Finding the joy through better project workflow“. The origins of this talk came from a combination of a few ideas.

Over the last couple of years I’ve attended as many conferences as I could afford and the talks that have really stayed with me are the ones that I could actually take things away from and could then apply to my own work. So that was the sort of talk I wanted to provide.

I’m always changing my project workflow to accommodate new techniques and as I was writing the talk I thought it would be interesting to discuss how I approach designing websites in the browser. But, I realised what I was actually doing was discussing how I sell that to the client. The actual talk I gave still discussed workflow but it evolved into how to manage the clients expectations at each stage, along with a few other tips I’ve learnt from working remotely most of the time.

I found this to be a really steep learning curve when I first set up my business, and a really important lesson. So it seemed like a really good thing to share because If the client isn’t happy then there is no joy in that project.

If you want to see my slides from the night you can find them here: http://www.slideshare.net/kirstyburgoine/speak-the-web-liverpool-2407
(Sadly the animated Gifs don’t work but most of my notes are included)

On the night

As the last show on “the tour” I’d say it went out on a high!


Tim Harbour explaining who the user is

When I arrived at the Elevator Bar in Liverpool I was pleasantly surprised to see it was actually the same location as the first Liverpool Speak the Web, just a different name.

Tim Harbour kicked the evening off with a fantastic talk that dealt with identifying the user and how its ok to say no to the client. This was awesome! It was his first ever public speaking gig and you couldn’t tell. It was also about something that nearly all of us learn the hard way.

I was next, and I think it went well. I was really chuffed that people came up to me afterwards to say they enjoyed the talk and that I had inspired some of them to make the leap to going freelance.

To think that I inspired people is just about the most awesome thing ever!


Dan Rubin illustrating the differences in UX design with chairs

After the break Harry Roberts was due to speak, but in the end wasn’t feeling well so couldn’t present his talk (if you heard about that you may want to read his blog: Make it count. Its a really interesting read and an important lesson for everyone, no matter what industry you work in). It was a real shame because Harry’s talks are always fantastic, but I’m glad he was ok and it turned out to not be anything serious.

Dan Rubin finished the “official” schedule of the evening with a really inspiring talk. It was something new he was trialling and didn’t have any slides. I thought it worked really well and it reminded me that I need to evaluate “every” project when its finished.

The evening ended with an open mic style session, inviting people to get up for a few minutes and share something. It was great to see so many people step up and share viewpoints and useful tips. I especially enjoyed the tip about nurturing a no blame culture within a team, and also Dan Rubin stepping in to explain that we are all UX designers.

The open mic style worked brilliantly because of its spontaneity, suited the gig style feel of the evening and was a fantastic way to end the Speak the Web tour.

Overall, the event was amazing. I got to meet and chat with some really awesome people and watched some really awesome talks.

The whole Speak the Web tour was a massive achievement which I’m honoured to have been a part of. A huge congratulations to Dan Donald and Jack Sheppard for organising it and making it such a great series of events.

5 cities, 20 speakers in 2 and half weeks is an immense achievement!

Photo of me taken by Jack Sheppard ( @madebysheppard )
Speak the Web 2013: http://speaktheweb.org/