How do you find the next big thing? People often look at innovators and think: “Just how did you DO that?” Many suspect there’s some kind of secret sauce involved – either that or insane luck.
Both of those may well be true to some degree, but what’s more likely is that successful innovators tend to spend their time in the company of other successful innovators. They feed off each other’s stories and share ideas until this creative hothouse spawns something new. One such hothouse is Lisbon’s Web Summit - it’s not called ‘Glastonbury for geeks’ for nothing.
Held every year in Portugal’s MEO Arena, Lisbon plays host to more than 50,000 attendees from 166 countries. It is both a start up showcase and a platform for well established brands with a track record of attracting some serious tech superstars, from Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to Tesla’s Elon Musk.
I had the luck of attending the fab event this year, joined by my colleague Julia Stamm, a censhare Product Owner. Here is what she had to say at the end of day one:
“Web Summit is a must go for those who want to hear about the latest trends in tech. It is really inspiring to watch big talents talk about their path through innovation and what their challenges were. It is great to be back with a lot of inspiration and ideas for our future.”
For me, it was good to hear designers from the industry talking about user experience, emphasizing how important user testing and research is to creating a good product. In addition to that, I would like to share with you some of my top takeaways from the event summarized below.
Slack co-founder Cal Henderson explained how user experience is stimulating technology and is at the heart of making Slack one of the fastest growing start ups. Similarly, the New York Times’ Graham McDonnell explained how successful content is driven by user need, and relies heavily on design. He also helpfully suggested that the “User experience is like a joke: if we have to explain it, you lose.”
User testing is also vital and both Slack and the New York Times joined Google’s user experience director, Jens Riegelsberger , in asserting its value in getting every feature just right. Unsurprisingly, Google uses its considerable resources to set up global usability labs to help it understand how consumers interact with its products.
For one set of presenters, it was all about how to communicate an issue such as mental wellbeing in a way that both touches and inspires the customer. This was the Calm app and it’s another fast growing start up.
For Pinterest’s CEO, Ben Silbermann , it was all about using visuals to trigger inspiration and get in touch with customers emotions. It’s one of the key reasons they keep iterating search – users are always seeking a better way to get to content they love. Social video is also growing in popularity, with David Schneider of That Lot explaining that storytelling and visual clues get the best out of advertising, whatever the platform.
Finally, with all those giant brains in the room, a set of speakers from MZ, Checkr and Zartis discussed talent – namely, finding and keeping it. Get the best people on board and the rest will follow. And you can’t talk about people and not have a conversation about inclusion and diversity. In an age where you can still stumble upon one too many ‘manels’ (male only panels), this seemed to be another thing Web Summit – and censhare - is getting right.
I’d like to end on this note and a closing comment from Julia Stamm:
“The event had a space dedicated to Women in Tech. For me it is great to see a lot of events and companies encouraging diversity, and censhare is one of these companies! We have a lot of diversity in our environment, with the company encouraging women hiring at all levels, from developers to the C-board members. I am really happy to be part of a company with no glass ceiling."