On Friday, September 16, 2011 I attended the Hive 2011 conference on the Microsoft campus.  The conference had the tag line “Where Design and Tech Meet”.  The attendees were evenly mixed between designers and developers with a mix of program managers and other business functions thrown in.  In that sense, the conference lived up to its tagline.  However, the presentations were almost entirely from the designer point of view and therefore the conference missed the mark.  Like most conferences the speakers often offered up contradictory advice. All that being said, I think it was time well spent.  Below are some of my notes I jotted down (they don’t make complete sense a week later…) :

Workshop – Designing for the Future

This was a great workshop about identifying market opportunities and how to identify and develop product ideas.

Hillel Cooperman, Jackson Fish Market  – Professional Software Design. Don’t try this at home.
· Creativity is often dismissed
· Design is an opinion.  Demanding proof that it is the “right” opinion is a waste of time
· Popular wisdom is that a designer must be like able to design and to program.  This is a not a good use of talent.
· Designer needs real power over engineering deliverables and dates

Jay Greene, CNET – Design is How It Works

This was a talk using examples of design from his book by the same name.

Kim Obbink, Filter – Tribal Instincts
· We are all tribes
· The creative tribe dresses distinctly; uses symbols; have rituals; rely on instincts; respect their elders
· We are all creative

August de los Reyes, Artefact – The Myth of Design Education

· Teaching is not necessary for learning
· Challenge this assumption.  Different models over time:

o   Master / Apprentice

o   Teacher / Student

o   Environment – constraints and freedom – failure is acceptable

· Personal aspects

o   Lone designer

o   Community Based – vertical, hierarchical, status driven

o   Collective – horizontal, flat, democratic

(It is this collective experience peer to peer learning)

· Technical aspects

o   Handmade to machine made

o   Machine to digital

o   “Handmade Digital” to “Machine made digital”

Andrew Otwell, Amazon – Five Deadly Venoms: Punch! Kick! Hire!

5 styles of designers:
· Lots of ideas for each problem
· Crisp, precise, focused
· Secret weapon outside of their design skills
· Multiple perspectives
· Thick skinned / able to take criticism

Tyesha Snow, Consultant – Contract vs. In House

3 misconceptions:
· Experienced design role not as important as other roles
· Little bit of design experience is sufficient
· You only have two choices: Full time designer or temporary consultant

It is possible to have the benefit of a full time designer in a contractor role. Bring them into the team for the long term but not full time.

Robbie Ingebretsen, PixelLab – Developer/Designer Workflow for Non-Zombies

· Cultivate passion / fight apathy
· Educated respect
· Chemistry not characters

Scott Berkun, WordPress.com – Feedback Without Frustration: How to Run and Effective Design Critique

Great design requires great feedback.

3 common (tragic) kinds of critiques:
· Bloodlet – lots of conflicting agendas
· Water Torture – Single persons work criticized by a large group
· Dog & Pony Show – All pretense, no conversation in the meeting

5 things to do:
· If it’s your work, own the critique
· Have a designated facilitator
· Have critique goals
· Separate like/hate from good/bad
· Avoid too many cooks

Jon Bell, Windows Phone – Make it Relevant

Art is a thing well done

Quality is relevant

Not a great design until it is relevant to the user

Matt Brown, Facebook – Stop Filling Buckets: Better Design Through Content

Design and content are not on equal footing.

How to fix?
· Start with copy
· Edit that copy

o   Edit that copy

· Mobile view before web
· Design a screenful
· Test with users

Christen Coomer, Valve – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Engineers

Unique work environment at Valve:
· No titles, no managers
· Work together on a project basis
· Everyone is responsible for the customer experience
· Work with candidates as the interview

Kevin Moore, PixelLab – The Art of Engineering

I had no notes for this lightning talk

Jeff Weir, Microsoft – The Proof is in the Prototype

Designers – learn to code

Developers – Join us

Michelle Goldberg, Ignition Partners – Why VCs Care About Design

Mint – used legacy backend and added a new design.  The design was the product.

Michelle Broderick, Uber – Marketers Love Designers

I had no notes for this lightning talk

Braden Kowitz & Jake Knapp, Google – How CEOs can Lead to Great Design

Make design a recruiting priority and start right away.

4 things that a CEO can do:
· Hire a design lead
· Determine what skills are missing
· Run studies every month
· Prototype then decide

Kelly Smith, Curious Office – Mobile Design: The Next Wave of Opportunity

What they have learned:
· Embrace constraint
· Change how you think
· Designers need to get more technical
· Plan for faults
· Prioritize

· Read the human interface guideline books for each target platform
· Learn about all of the components available on the target platform
· Tap, pinch, flick, slide (no click)
· Consider screen size / density, orientation, resolution
· Appreciate what the vendors are supplied
· Over-design at your own risk
· Pay attention to transitions and other animations

· Failure to edit down features to the essentials
· Failure to understand the differences between the mobile operating systems
· Think mobile OS components are the same as web page elements
· Lack of attention to details (such as not making buttons for each resolution)
· No graphic production work flow for the myriad of files needed for each target platform, resolution, etc.

Enrique Allen, 500 Startups – The Future of Designer Founders in Tech

I had to leave at the beginning of this (final) talk