In 2008, when we launched our Structure conference, we believed that the cloud and cloud-based services were going to become part of the fabric of economic life. A year later, the more we talked to folks we trust, the more it became obvious that data was going to become a core tenet of modern businesses, too. Now the cambrian explosion of mobile apps and cloud-based services as well as the exponential growth of data has led us to a very simple understanding: user experience is part of business logic.
It is such a fundamental and defining shift in how technology (and other) businesses will be built and will operate that we think it is not only worth writing about, but it is also the reason why we are focusing our third annual 2013 RoadMap conference on “experience.” Today we’re announcing the first speakers for RoadMap — which include Square and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Behance founder Scott Belsky, typographer Erik Spiekermann and others — and opening up registration for the event, which will take place on November 5 and 6th in San Francisco.
While there is a lot of talk about design, design is a fundamental part of the overall experience. It is not just a single website or a product, but instead it is our interaction with a company across all facets of the experience. It doesn’t matter how great the iPhone is — if the network doesn’t work, or the iMessages don’t get delivered, we are disappointed in Apple. Some call it design thinking.
The Cloud changes everything
The emergence of the cloud has made a lot of the underlying technologies into commodities. Instead, the focus has shifted to creating smart and emotional experiences that use these ample commodities. The experiences are based on our social connections and are shaped by conclusions we can derive from data, but ultimately we need to make the experience memorable: and that is where design thinking comes into play. It is experience as a part of business logic.
This quiet movement is gathering momentum right in front of us. Dropbox, which started out life as an invisible storage syncing service, recently acquired the hot Mailbox app to build a new experience layer, for that was the quickest way for Dropbox to become our cloud computing service du jour. Adobe bought Behance because it felt it was important to develop a closer relationship with its audience and thus make them part of their business experience. Both Mailbox’s Gentry Underwood and Behance’s Scott Belsky will be speaking at RoadMap.
When put to work and done right, the focus on user experience pays off. Virgin America, an airline whose premise is taking the pain out of air travel and putting a smile on your face, does that by making sure that every little interaction you have with the company brings out that smile: purple lights of the cabin, the cheerful cabin staff, the light-hearted announcements and even the ticket printout. There is also Nike, which has turned user experience into high-art.
Design Thinking in Techlandia
In techlandia, examples abound. Yes, there is Apple. But there’s also Square, Airbnb, Instagram, Pinterest and newcomer Tinder. Even Tesla is using design thinking to establish its brand in an early market. Airbnb’s co-founder Joe Gebbia and Tinder CEO Sean Rad will speak at RoadMap.
The emergence of the wired internet saw a mushrooming of browser-based services. The mobile internet has created a galaxy of apps. Now as wearable computing and sensor-based networks start to take shape, we are on the cusp of intimate computing. Micro-machines sit in our pockets. Others are wrapped around our wrists and ankles. There are millions more coming that will emerge from the minds of those innovators we call kids. This means we need to think about technology from a different perspective — that of user experiences.
At RoadMap 2013, which this year we’re holding in the beautiful Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, we are bringing together an all-star lineup of speakers, experts and entrepreneurs to talk to about what our adviser, and RISD President John Maeda, likes to call the intersection of design with Moore’s Law. It’s the idea that it’s difficult to quantify the importance of design for tech businesses, but it’s clear that the ones that are leading on design and experience are leading in the market.
Maeda, who first spoke at our RoadMap 2012 conference, will be joined by the likes of Dorsey, Spiekermann, Gebbia, Belsky, Underwood, Rad, as well as Indiegogo founder Danae Ringelmann, Adobe Vice President of Products Jeff Veen, Ammunition Group Partner Robert Brunner, True&Co co-founder Michelle Lam, and Jennifer Magnolfi, who heads up co-working development for the Las Vegas Downtown Project. We will be announcing more speakers in the weeks to come.
More details and registration information can be found here.