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@Media2009: The Process Toolbox

27th June 2009

Yesterday I was very fortunate to speak at @Media 2009 alongside Andy Clarke, Jon Hicks, Dan Rubin, Mark Boulton and Jason Santa Maria. It’s been a fun but intense few days. Here’s a summary -  a bit rushed as I’m somewhat knackered.

Organic Process

Figure 1: Organic collaborative process.

I’ve spoken at @Media before, but this was a big one for me. Single-track, my own topic, plenty at stake. Bizarrely after all the build up, I wasn’t at all nervous, and really enjoyed it. I could have waffled on for hours. I get a real kick out of doing presentations, so why I worry so much I’ve no idea.

Collaborating with Gregory

I spent many weeks working on my presentation, and am particularly proud of the slides themselves. These were the result of a thorough and enjoyable collaboration with my colleague and friend Greg Wood, who is in my eyes a total genius. Together we scoped out the visual ideas, structural flow and design details like one big storyboard, very carefully evolving the slides. Greg’s use of type and textures really seals the approach.

Within all of this, his idiosyncratic illustrations really impress - he’s got an uncanny way of describing a lot with just a few simple line drawings, and we had plenty of fun sketching out scenarios and silly ways of representing the topics. His final drawings are funny as hell - I love them.

We really tried give the thing a unique, lovingly crafted feel. It was refreshing to pour our creativity into something that doesn’t typically run in a browser.

Process slides

Figure 2: Selected slide designs.

So far lots of people seem to appreciate the efforts we made, which is wonderful. Gregory - I fucking love you for caring so much about this and doing all of that work. I owe you lots of beer. Such a shame he couldn’t join me at the conference, choosing instead to do a 7-day intensive diving course. Big thanks to all of my colleagues actually, as they offered plenty of support and allowed us to use plenty of office time to get this done.

I got a bit miffed earlier after receiving a couple of emails etc suggesting I was “out of order” to “get somebody else to do all [my] slides”, forcing me to try and explain via Twitter (140 characters was all I could deal with) about the concept of “collaboration”. Both Greg and I worked very hard on the slides, and pulling the narrative together took me a long time. I don’t know why I get so angry about one or two stupid people, especially when everyone else liked the talk.

The presentation

I wrote a 25-page script in exact detail to accompany the slides and ensure it was well-researched and made sense, but on the day I know I muddied a few points and waffled on way too many tangents. Its never a good idea to read from notes, and I do love just pacing the stage and having little rants (and I did indeed have a good rant), but this does mean I forgot some salient points. Still, the response was really positive, and lots of folks wrote/said they took great ideas away with them. That’s the best thing I could read/hear.

Anyway, I’ll probably release parts of the script as a number of blog posts over at our ErskineLabs site in the coming weeks.

Take a look…

You can download the slides as a 12mb PDF if you wish, or view on Speakerdeck with a bit more dynamic detail:

The conference at large

Hot on the heals of AEA Boston, it seems many similar themes were pooling, such as designing in the browser, dealing with IE6, the idea of the “system”, @font-face and foundries, and lots of talk about process and sharing business ideas and methods. I missed some of day two, but day one was thoroughly useful, with my brain swelling with the terrific knowledge being piped into it. I have so many ideas I want to try out back in the office now.

As with all great conferences, it was as much social as educational, and I met plenty of old friends and wonderful new people at the venue, in the bars, and in the “greasy spoons”. Way too many people to mention, but it was great to chat with all of you. There are probably plenty of pictures on Flickr - and don’t miss David Emery’s speaker shots. I also rather like Jeremy’s geeks on a bridge shots.

@Media will be presented by Web Directions

Finally, a huge “thank you” to Patrick Griffiths who has almost single-handedly organised the events for the last five years. He’s done an exceptional job for myself, my colleagues and the industry as a whole.

Patrick is moving on to follow other paths (albeit remaining as an advisor), leaving @Media in the very capable hands of John and Maxine - the folks behind Web Directions. Best of luck to all concerned. No doubt we’ll all be there again on 2010.


# James Deane responded on 27th June 2009 with...

Thankyou. Thankyou for an entertaing, thought-provoking and inspiring presentation, it really was a highlight. Looking forward to reading more on ErskineLabs.

# John Allsopp responded on 27th June 2009 with...


really sorry to have missed out on making it along to @media this year. And thanks for the very nice words about Web Directions! Just a little clarification - next year’s event will still be @media, just presented by us at Web Directions, and with Patrick still involved as an advisor.

Looking forward to meting up in the not too distant future, and @media 2010 in London next June!

# prisca responded on 28th June 2009 with...

wow - what beautiful, beautiful slides…. makes me even more sad now I couldn’t see your talk…
Thanks for posting them here :)

# Darren Taylor responded on 28th June 2009 with...

Simon, great presentation I thought after Andy and yourself the other speakers didn’t quite match up. That’s no slant on them but I personally found your content more relevant and applicable to the real world. I too have a similiar system like your ultimate package minus your feedback form. I have to say I thought that was inspired, the idea of having a bar along the top of every page for customers to feedback info, which also gives you details of browser, screen res etc - invaluable.
I was wondering is your source available on the web or are you willing to release it? Thanks!

# Karl responded on 28th June 2009 with...

Hi Simon,

Loved the visuals and the talk - was highly relevant as a(nother) reminder of what I need to consider as we set up an internal team at work.

Big thanks to you and Greg for your efforts!

# Simon Collison responded on 29th June 2009 with...

John: Cheers for popping by. Delighted you folks will be keeping @Media alive from 2010. I have amended the post slightly, based on your comment, so as not to confuse anyone. Look forward to meeting up soon, and if there’s anything I can do to help…

Darren: Wow! Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. I’d disagree about the following presentations myself - not to be humble, but just because I got a lot personally from Mark about current type issues, and loved the assured design advice from Dan and Jason. for example. Those guys deliver their talks so expertly. I was in awe.

If anyone wants our Ultimate Package, well - you can’t have it. We’re not being awkward, its just that each designer/agency should develop their own - its a very personal thing in our opinion. I will however be writing about it soon, and doing a FOWD Tour workshop all about evolving your own package, in September, in Leeds.

# Darren Taylor responded on 29th June 2009 with...

Simon, that’s no problem, I just thought I’d ask! I unfortunately missed Jason’s presentation which was a pity but the room was so hot and uncomfortable I just couldn’t stick it any longer that day.

# Simon Rudkin responded on 29th June 2009 with...

Can’t think of an appropriate superlative. I’d love to see this fleshed out into a book, as there’s nothing out there that combines both process theory and practicality.

And I’ve never seen a presentation slide that I’d wear on a t-shirt before (58/73).

# Simon Collison responded on 29th June 2009 with...

Rudkin: Cheers chap. That means a lot coming from my old mentor. Yeah, I agree about book/pamphlet potential. Or workshop, or whatever. I’m definitely gonna print and mount a few of these slides for the studio - motivational inspiration. Might turn a few into wallpapers or some such. As for t-shirts, you feel free.

# Tipsy responded on 30th June 2009 with...

Oh… I expected you’d either post a video or at least the whole presentatio once you’re done with it. I guess I’ll need some more patience.

# David Hughes responded on 30th June 2009 with...

I thought your talk was excellent Simon; really well structured and presented.

It was great to see it in person and to get a chance to catch up again.

See you at FOWA Leeds.

# Antonia Hyde responded on 30th June 2009 with...

Hi Simon

I didn’t get the chance to congratulate you on your talk at @media.  I loved the slides and the talk!

Good to see you talk about LVT too.  I’ve used it before and found it such a good way to collaborate with and involve people who might find it hard, for whatever reason, to contribute when in a group.  Also for people who don’t speak.

# Firebubble Design responded on 2nd July 2009 with...

wow, I love the slides. I found the blog very beneficial with, as aways excellent presentation.

# Zegarki na reke responded on 7th July 2009 with...

Oh man, this sounds like it was a really educational experience, offering the type of information I basically live on. I wish I could have come ...
Thanks for the review, I’m planning my trip to the next years edition as we speak. No way I’m gonna miss on something this .. well, fun.

# Rak Design responded on 9th July 2009 with...

Great slides, thanks for sharing them :)

# George Terezakis responded on 9th July 2009 with...

Simon, it was a great talk, and the slides are brilliant! Thanks for sharing :-) I’d be interested in something you mentioned in your talk about adding an extra tab in Basecamp for the deliverables sheets. Did I get this right?
Could you please give a few pointers on how to do this?

# Sue Woolfe responded on 12th July 2009 with...

Great stuff, love the slides! ;-)

# Alistair Conditioning responded on 13th July 2009 with...

Looks great, thanks for sharing the wonderful slides.

# CD responded on 14th July 2009 with...

Congrats, Simon! That must have been exciting for you. The presentation is slick. I’m glad you weren’t nervous.

# Vaillant Poznan responded on 16th July 2009 with...

“parts of the script”? I hope you release the whole thing, not everyone could made it to its “premiere” so it’d be nice if you posted the whole thing here. I’m sure lots of people would be pleased.

# Noclegi Gory Stolowe responded on 20th July 2009 with...

I read the first to parts of the transcript and I’m impressed. Really nice structure of the whole thing and a lot of useful info. That’s what I like in presentations!

# jingdong responded on 24th July 2009 with...

hi~I’m from china.I loved the slides and the talk! Thank you!

# SJL Web Design responded on 24th July 2009 with...

Wonderful set of slides, thnks for sharing them with us. Looks like a fantastic conference with some great talks.

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