In two sessions (February 17 and March 3), six Splandigo employees assembled for the first installment of the Splandigo seminars. We had not set extremely high goals for this test, so that we could try out the idea a bit. The results were however quite satisfactory.
The initial idea was to ensure that we didn’t get too strictly bound by the necessity of productivity, and that we kept ourselves sharp and up to date. It also had the very positive effect of allowing us all to be kept posted of the various fields we’re each active in. Indeed, while many of our respective activities overlap (we are, after all, a web agency, and everything does roughly revolve around creating web sites), we do have quite distinct interests.
First, I will expose a bit what the seminars were about, and give a few technical details. The presentations are listed in the order they were given.
- Jamy: why accessibility is important
- Raphaël: the business model of the blogosphere, cultivating the tree and banking on the forest
- Renaud: a quick overview of CMSes and application frameworks, and where PointComma fits in this
- Maarten: rich media applications, enhancing user experience while not degrading accessibility
- Marius: the psychology of web navigation, three models to understand how users navigate
- Niek: how to define and market the value of web projects, in real-life relationships with clients
The topics were quite varied, and that was valuable: we got to hear (and to discuss) about ideas we wouldn’t be confronted with in our daily professional practice. Marius’ presentation stemmed from his (recently completed) third-year research paper, and contained particularly interesting insights; Maarten pleaded for richer, more direct interaction methods between our web sites and their visitors.
The presentation were all between 10 and 20 minutes, except Marius’ which lasted 30. Only Maarten and Jamy had slides.
On the basis of this first round, I draw the following conclusion: the seminars are good for Splandigo, and good for each of us. They increase the cohesion of the team and the mutual awareness, which is source of quality, while requiring from us work with fewer compromises, which is source of individual progress.
The next installment will be better, by applying the following guidelines:
- the requirements will be put higher: each presentation must last 30-40 minutes, and be supported by a relevant set of slides, screenshots or diagrams prepared in advance
- the rhythm should be more regular: on the third Wednesday of each month, a seminar should take place
- each session should be somewhat shorter: two presentations should be enough, our attention span is too short to last any longer
- some topics will be treated by two people: there is a challenge in working as a (small) team, and the results could be better
- notes should officially be taken: we’re now relying on the speaker’s own notes, or mine, which weren’t always taken seriously
- the presentations will be published: the Splandigo web site should host a compact version of the notes, to serve as brain candy and maximize the use
- and as planned, we’ll invite people from outside of Splandigo: both speakers and audience
Bernard Vehmeyer has registered for a presentation on web writing (the topic may still evolve a bit), and I have in mind the names of three or four people I’d really like to invite: the next Splandigo seminar is not planned yet, but it’s taking shape already.