Techweek Chicago: A Developer’s Perspective
Three key concepts emerged from last week’s conference
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: June 28th, 2012
hicago’s 2nd annual Techweek Conference and Expo took place last weekend at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, a historic building that blends artistic expression, trade, and technology. The conference touched on a multitude of topics, covering all aspects of business and entrepreneurship on the web today.
Excitement was palpable in the air during the weeklong conference. The two main stages and four secondary stages hosted a constant flow of speakers, each of them imparting valuable knowledge gleaned from their wealth of experience.
From a developer’s perspective there were only three topics worth considering—gamification, viral marketing, and responsive website design. For those whose careers don’t depend on understanding these keywords, let’s get you up to speed.
Gamification, the most controversial new concept, refers to the integration of mechanics traditionally used when building video games (such as ranks, scores, & badges) into website and application design. The object is to drive engagement in desired behaviors. One example of successful gamification is the popular application Foursquare, which tallies users’ check-ins and rewards them with badges (and, for the person who checks in the most at a given location, the status of “mayor”). What’s controversial about this concept is when companies attempt to mask already sub-par content with game mechanics as a way to dress up their insufficient product or message, which only serves to give gamification a bad name.
Viral content, as most people are aware, is content that (according to Wikipedia) “appeals to individuals with high social networking potential (SNP) and that have a high probability of being presented and spread by these individuals and their competitors in their communications with others in a short period of time.” Going viral is the ultimate goal of anyone who creates content for the internet, since it insures that their message will be given maximum exposure through mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. One panelist, when asked how to effectively make viral content, replied, “Find a unicorn at the end of a rainbow and take a picture.”
The term responsive design will make some developers’ skin crawl. It's similar to gamification, only responsive design doesn’t attempt to take advantage of the end-user. The goal of responsive design is to build websites that work seamlessly across all major devices today. Most developers have had the pleasure of building one website for desktops, another for smartphones, and sometimes another for tablets. Considering all the different screen sizes that exist within just those three mediums, you can see how effective presentation of content has become an increasingly difficult goal to attain. Responsive web design means websites need only to be built once. These websites will intelligently recognize the screen size or resolution of the screen on which they will be viewed, and will automatically adapt the presentation appropriately. Responsive web design is a much-needed and long overdue initiative that will ultimately satisfy viewers and developers alike.
If you are interested in learning about some of the amazing speakers who graced the Techweek stages with their presence over the weekend, you can read about them on the Techweek website. At the very least, you’ll find some interesting new people to follow on Twitter.