This year's Úll was at the Europe Hotel on the shores of Lough Leane in Killarney, Ireland where a crowd of friendly, hungry, and expectant people converged for the next iteration of Úll (it's the Irish word for apple). In the fourth year of the conference, I don't think anyone left disappointed.
The theme of the conference this year was Motivation, and it was approached from every angle possible. From Georgia Dow, a licensed psychotherapist, who talked about how she approaches her clients to help them work through their individual motivations, to James Thomson telling us his tale of working at Apple and longing to see his name in the hidden about window in Finder. We heard stories and practical advice on how to look at what drives us to continue to pursue building great products, whether you have an app in the App Store or in my case building great products for our clients.
My biggest takeaway is the people behind the products. These individuals introduced some ideas to me that have been rattling around my head ever since:
- Jerry Kennely told us about how he sold his company to Getty Images, and how we should be thinking about what we do with a much longer term view. He asked us to frame things with the perspective of "When I'm 90 ..."
- Anil Dash asked us if we're creating products that have earned the time that people spend on them? Also, he told us that the features that we include in a product define the culture that arises around the product (e.g. requiring real names vs. allowing anonimity lead to very different cultures in a product).
Des Traynor reminded us that no one ever decided that they want to build bloated software, and that if we don't see each added feature as an expensive (product-wise) decision we'll inevitably head there. He also talked about how shipping doesn't mean anything, usage means something, measure and view your products through the proper lens of usage. Listening to usage over requests shows you where to steer your product to where it provides the most value for your users.
Barry Scott challenged us to think about the inherent bias against the disabled in our products when we don't consider the usage of our products by the 10-15% of the population of the world with physical disabilities and the ~25% that have some form of mental disability.
- Jessie Char told us to be amateurs, to continue to pursue our passion to create products with the drive that we have as amateurs. To pursue our craft because we choose to, not because we're paid to.
- Horace Dediu posed the question of why we're so bad at making predictions, and contrasted how those that came before us predicted what 1985 would look like, and what the predictions of 2015 in Back to the Future 2 (I really need to rewatch it) looked like. With some incredible graphs (as usual) he showed how our dreams of the future continue to change as the world around us continues to change.
Behind every product that we use, are people. People who are real, people that have individual motivations and desires that have lead them to bring their product to where it is right now. Treat them like a person, and if you get a chance, talk to them.
Also, this happened.