Webstock's main conference features 20+ kick-ass presentations spread over two days of awesomeness.

Mostly they're keynote presentations, giving everyone the opportunity to share the same experience. But occasionally we'll break into two streams, giving speakers the chance to delve deep into their specialist topics.

We hope you enjoy!

  • Marco Arment

    Marco Arment

    Contrary to popular beliefs

    Many common patterns, rules, and trends in web and app development aren't universally applicable, or come with downsides that few people ever mention. I'll talk about several trends that I've resisted for Tumblr and Instapaper, the often-great alternatives that are available, and how to make appropriate choices for your work.

  • Doug Bowman

    Doug Bowman

    Delivering Delight

    The power of delight is underutilized in web design. We’re not delighting users enough. Yes, we need to align with business strategy. Yes, we need help users to accomplish tasks and goals. Yes, we need to create usable, accessible interfaces. But that’s just a baseline. To surpass this, we must remember that users are human. They have emotions, insecurities, passions, and desires. The service industry recognizes this, and has, for decades. We too, should be spending more of our time building moments of joy and satisfaction into our design and our products. Doug will focus your attention on a true differentiator in modern product design: delivering experiences that delight.

  • Josh Clark

    Josh Clark

    Buttons Are a Hack: The New Rules of Designing for Touch

    Fingers and thumbs turn design conventions on their head. Touchscreen interfaces create ergonomic, contextual, and even emotional demands that are unfamiliar to desktop designers. Find out why our beloved desktop windows, buttons, and widgets are weak replacements for manipulating content directly, and learn practical principles for designing mobile interfaces that are both more fun and more intuitive. Along the way, discover why buttons are a hack, how to develop your gesture vocabulary, and why toys and toddlers provide eye-opening lessons in this new style of design.

  • Tom Coates

    Tom Coates

    Everything the Network Touches

    The work we’re collectively doing—opening up gradually all of human information and media, making it recombinable, helping people create and share their work—is a huge unspoken, sexy, world-redefining mission.

    It’s a mission that many of us have become blasé about, almost unaware of. It’s a project so large that it’s hard to get a grasp on. And the next few years are going to get even more interesting as the network pervades physical objects and environments, sensing and manifesting information in the real world.

    It’s time to recognise the scale of the project we have in front of us, the breadth of the material we have to work with, and the possibilities of design within it. All of human knowledge, creativity—even the planet itself—is our canvas.

  • Jason Cohen

    Jason Cohen

    A Geek Sifts Through the Bullshit

    As a geek who has started three successful companies, I’ve had to move from “coder” to everything else — salesman, designer, marketer, accountant, and changer of the pellets in the urinals. In the process, I’ve found that some widely accepted advice lead to failure while trusting my inexperienced gut lead to success. Through stories I’ll show you five ways to deal with the cacophony of advice on the web, from friends, and from customers, so you know whether specific advice is right for your situation, and then workshop those lessons against the 37signals philosophy.

  • John Gruber

    John Gruber

    The Gap Theory of UI Design

    “Consistency” is widely held as a precept of good UI design. But what traditionalists often mean when they speak of UI consistency is really about uniformity. But UI design today — whether it be for desktop, mobile, or web apps — is often about expressing individuality, and thus in opposition to uniformity. Today, UIs are aspects of branding; we create distinctive personalities for software. Let's figure out which aspects of consistency remain essential, useful, and relevant today.

  • Kristina Halvorson

    Kristina Halvorson


    The way we talk about our content has significant impact on the way we treat it within our organizations… and, therefore, the quality of the content we produce. How can we make the shift from treating content as a commodity to valuing it as a business asset? With a little storytelling and the help of a few powerful metaphors, you can begin to turn the tides.

  • Michael Koziarski

    Michael Koziarski

    That's all well and good, but how does it help me?

    Webstock's a fantastic opportunity to meet world leading experts, and learn from their experiences. But it can often be tricky to reconcile the inspiring tales of world-beating startups and technology companies with the day to day grind of corporate or government IT projects. Instead of projects which arrive on the market and define entire new industries, most of us are working on projects that are months overdue and way over budget.

    What lessons should we take away from the successes we see, and what mistakes can we avoid by studying project failures.

  • Michael Lopp

    Michael Lopp

    An Engineering Mindset

    The inmates are truly running the asylum. In recent years, a unique type of start-up has emerged. These companies have designed, built, and shipped products that share a unique characteristic — they're created and run by the people who built the product — the engineers.

    An engineering mindset defines both the early products as well as the cultures of these companies. In this talk, I'll explain what the hell an engineering mindset is, how it's evolved since the implosion of the Dot-com Bubble, and how it's increasingly contributing to the success of companies. Lastly, I'll discuss why conditions are ripe for this perspective to take hold and change both the way products and companies are built.

  • Merlin Mann

    Merlin Mann

    Scared Shitless: How I (Mostly) Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything

    Merlin will perform a mime. His silent exercises, which include such classic works as “The cage”, “Walking against the wind”, “The mask maker”, and “In the park” — and satirise everything from sculptors to matadors — have been described as works of genius.

  • David McCandless

    David McCandless

    Information is Beautiful

    In an age of high-speed living and info overload, visualized information has incredible potential to help us quickly understand, navigate and find meaning in complex world.

    The use of infographics, data visualisations and information design is a rising trend across many disciplines: science, design, journalism and web. At the same time, daily exposure to the web is creating a incredibly design-literate population. Could this be a new language?

    David will share his passion for exciting potential of this merging of design, information, text and story. And unveil some of the interesting, unexpected and sometimes magical things that happen when you visualise data, knowledge and ideas. And, admitting that his book is as full of mistakes as it is successes, he'll also explore some of the common pitfalls, traps and FAILS that dog this young design form. Using examples from his book and blog, he'll share thoughts on what makes a successful information visualisation and journalistic tips, especially for designers, on how to zero in on interesting data and subjects - and how designing information expose your own biases and change your views about the world. Oh yeah!

  • Scott McCloud

    Scott McCloud

    Comics: A Medium in Transition

    More than any other popular art form, comics are sensitive to the formats, platforms, and devices that connect them to readers. How can this unique medium communicate content effectively when all assumptions about its form are up for grabs? And how can comics techniques inform other types of visual communication on the Web? Author and comics artist Scott McCloud puts a blizzard of new trends into perspective in a fast-moving visual presentation.

  • Amanda Palmer

    Amanda Palmer

    Amanda Palmer talks new music paradigm, blogging, Twitter and life

    Amanda “Fucking” Palmer, solo songwriter/performer and half of the punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls, has been called “The Queen Of Social Media” by the Huffington Post. Beyond running her blog and keeping a very close relationship with her audience online since 2000, she's recently gone independent after a heated battle to be released from a major label.

    For the last few years, she has been traveling the world with no management, relying on internet tools (she has over 450,000 followers on twitter), a close-knit team of paid online office staff she calls “team chaos”, and the goodwill and creativity of her fanbase (and often, the kindness of strangers) to make things possible. She is a huge crusader for a new model of patronage-based music distribution in the form of suggested online donations and patron-based campaigns (like kickstarter and pledgefund).

    Amanda Palmer will explore the means by which Twitter and other current media/social networks have revolutionized her independent music business and personal experiences on and off the road. Brief Q & A to follow. Nothing off limits.

  • Christine Perfetti

    Christine Perfetti

    Adventurous Usability Techniques: Novel Approaches for the Seasoned Pro

    Usability research is pretty straight forward. Find some users, put them in front of a design, have them execute a task or two, take some notes, write a report, and call it a night, right? Not quite. There are many advanced techniques which, when implemented effectively, can drastically improve the success of your research.

    Do you want to measure the effectiveness of your content pages? How do you ensure your links are meaningful to users? Do users see the value of your products and services? When trying to answer these kinds of questions, some techniques work better than others. In this presentation, Christine Perfetti will show you some unique methods you've probably never heard of — techniques only practiced by the most adventurous design teams. Among the techniques you'll learn about:

    • 5-Second Tests: A popular low-tech technique to collect quick feedback on whether a screen or page's purpose is clear to users. You may have heard of this technique, but 90% of design teams are using it wrong
    • Inherent Value Tests: A two-phase test that explores the value that loyal customers find in a product or service
    • Category Agreement Analysis: An alternative to traditional card sorting
    • Catalog-based Testing: The perfect technique for organizations migrating offline content to the web
  • Mark Pilgrim

    Mark Pilgrim

    The Future of the Web: where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?

    A light-hearted romp through the trials and tribulations of web developers everywhere, interspersed with some serious advice about what's next on the web in 2011 and beyond.

  • David Recordon

    David Recordon

    HTML5 at Facebook

    Putting aside the argument of if HTML5 includes CSS3 or if the logo is good, we're finding that it lets developers build modern web applications from one codebase that adapts to the wide array of desktop and mobile browsers. I'll talk about where Facebook is using HTML5 today, a few more speculative projects we're working on around it, and generally why every web developer should start rethinking how they go about developing for desktop and mobile.

  • Jason Santa Maria

    Jason Santa Maria

    On Web Typography

    Achieving a thorough grasp of typography can take a lifetime, but moving beyond the basics is within your reach right now. In this talk, we’ll learn how to look at typefaces with a discerning eye, different approaches to typographic planning, how typography impacts the act of reading, and how to choose and combine appropriate typefaces from an aesthetic and technical point of view. Through an understanding of our design tools and how they relate to the web as a medium, we can empower ourselves to use type in meaningful and powerful ways.

  • Glenda Sims

    Glenda Sims

    Practical Accessibility Testing

    How do you know if your web site is accessible? Can automated testing tools help? Glenda will share gems from her 10+ years of experience testing sites for accessibility. Equip yourself with free and powerful testing tools. Learn how to turn it up a notch when you need to monitor accessibility across a vast enterprise. See some of the very latest testing tools that will help you evaluate color contrast, dynamic content and WAI-ARIA compliance.

  • Steve Souders

    Steve Souders

    Web Performance Optimisation: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

    The last few years have seen a bevy of case studies from Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft, Mozilla, Shopzilla, Netflix, and others testifying that making web sites faster drives traffic to the site, improves the user experience, increases revenue, and reduces operating costs. The VC community has caught on and are backing a number of web performance startups. All of this has culminated in the emergence of a new industry: Web Performance Optimization (WPO). Join Steve Souders as he recounts the evolution of WPO and lays out the biggest challenge for creating faster web sites: JavaScript.

  • Nicole Sullivan

    Nicole Sullivan

    CSS Tools for Massive Websites

    Perhaps you like the idea of Object Oriented CSS, but your website has out-of-control CSS bloat. You know your performance is being impacted, but how do you move from organic CSS with no particular architecture to something lighter, more logical, and easier to maintain? How do we automate some of the heavy-lifting and stop wasting our own time?

    CSS is typically the most difficult layer to automate, but a more clearly defined CSS architecture makes lint much more powerful. In this session, Nicole will show you how she improved the CSS at Salesforce,, and Facebook, and demo tools that you can use to test your own CSS.

    In the session you will learn about preprocessors, lint tools, and unit testing. By the end of the session, you'll be able to decide which tools are right for your project.

  • Peter Sunde

    Peter Sunde

    The Pirate Bay of Penzance

    Peter will perform songs from Gilbert and Sullivan's “The Pirates of Penzance.” His physicality and infectious ebullience as the Pirate King will seduce all who see it.

  • Jason Webley

    Jason Webley

    Portrait of an Artist as an Independent Musician

    How an accordion player from Seattle uses the web to shape a magical and successful career independent of records labels, publicists, booking agents and managers; and how he struggles to maintain independence from the internet tools he uses.

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