Yuliya and Chris Share SXSW Takeaways and Save You $4K

March 30, 2016   |   Chris Preston and Yuliya Crevier

The recent South by Southwest Conference was 96 hours of tech overload and inspiration. Here are four, oh-so-pithy, video observations you can use to expand your interactive thinking and, just maybe, take your company to the next level. Warning: We are in no danger of becoming talk show hosts anytime soon.

Chris: Hi, I’m Chris Preston…

Yuliya: and I’m Yuilya Crevier. This year, we represented Preston Kelly at South by Southwest. And we’re here today to share with you the most inspiring ideas we took away from South by Southwest.

Chris: Great content takes great engagement. Sarah Green, the former curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, had the assignment to get more people to the museum. She did great videos, beautiful videos, about the art at the museum thinking that would pull people in. What happened though was that she was basically getting a thousand, two thousand, three thousand views for the videos and it wasn’t changing traffic.

Instead, she realized she needed to engage the audience in a way that gave them a way to participate. And so she went out and talked to artists in their own spaces and she was able to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look, demystifying the art. And then, she assigned the artists to give an assignment each week. So the artists would show their art and give an assignment that related to their art. This led her numbers to go up to fifty, sixty, seventy thousand views. And it became curriculum for teachers in schools, it got students into the museum and it’s been a huge success.

Yuliya: Making stuff isn’t enough. This is an idea that we kept hearing over and over in a number of different sessions. What this means is that the speed of innovation has gotten so much faster that if you think you have a unique selling proposition today, you might not have it in six months. So what do you do to combat that?

People. Invest in your people. Invest in developing talent. That is the thing that is going to differentiate you and is going to drive innovation throughout the whole company. And consider looking at innovation differently. Instead of simply looking at it as a fad, or something you do at a retreat or one day a month, commit to it as an organization for the long haul.

Another interesting idea here is that if you’re a product company, consider looking at adding a service layer or adding an experience layer to your product. That is something that’s going to differentiate you from your competitors. It’s going to make your value proposition a lot stickier and it will make it a lot harder for your competition to catch up to you.

Chris: Generation Z. As one of the few people at SXSW who wasn’t a Millennial, I felt like I needed to learn about Generation Z, the upcoming generation who is on a brand identity continuum between brands that fit them, like Uniqlo or Warby Parker – brands that fit into their lives – and then brands that define them. Those would be brands, traditional badge brands, like Mercedes Benz or Lacoste.

These guys, for the next 10 years – by 2025 – they’re going to be experimenting along this continuum of where it works. But at the end of that time frame, the panelists felt that Generation Z would be polarized on both ends. They’d either be exclusively with brands that fit their lifestyle – didn’t say anything about them, let them be themselves – or brands that were very much about what they were into at that time, that represented them.

I guess the lesson is if you’re a brand in the middle, by 2025 you might be out of luck. Focus. Find your niche. And that will be the way to success.

Yuliya: Designing for happiness and friction. This was an interesting idea that can sound a little counterintuitive if you are a user-experience designer who’s so focused on streamlining the experience – making things easy and fast. The idea we heard is that if we all focus on that – on streamlining the experience – what future are we creating? Are we creating a future in which we’re all streamlined robots who are getting things done quickly and fast but are not really talking to each other and building relationships?

In one of the talks we attended, there was an emphasis on intentionally creating friction. Examples of this are airbnb or SoulCycle. SoulCycle actually intentionally creates places for attendees, for customers, to bump into each other after class so they can interact and share stories. And Airbnb, as you know, instead of the streamlined hotel experience, you get to interact with a host. It makes the whole thing more fulfilling and more enriching.

And designing for happiness just means thinking about creating signature moments throughout the experience. What can I add throughout my product design or my web design that will delight and surprise people along the way?

Thanks for listening. We hope you found this helpful.

Chris: For more inspiration follow us on Twitter: @prestonkelly.

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