The Digital Barn 2

On Saturday the 22nd of September I took the trip over the Pennines to Barnsley to attend The Digital Barn 2, an event full of informative presentations, workshops, banter and idea sharing. The whole experience was a tremendous success and huge credit should go out to Kimb Jones, Matthew Watson and the Barnsley DMC. The day was an excellent learning experience with some very well presented talks.

The first session I attended was “How to Win & Work with Big Clients” from the guys over at Human Made. I enjoyed this talk as Tom and Joe gave us all a taste of what most of us are working towards. Talks like this always inspire you to work harder, more efficient and provide a better service overall with the view that one day you may be able to attract the types of clients that the team at Human Made do WordPress work for every day. Tom and Joe gave some great tips including:

  1. Be Focused
  2. Be Credible
  3. Learn how to charge
  4. Be excellent

Some sound obvious but we all need a reminder from time to time of the basics in order to focus on what we want to achieve. I was particularly interested in hearing their thoughts on learning how to charge, something which I still cannot get right nearly 5 years into freelancing!

Next up was Bea Marshall talking about “Transforming your online presence“. I really enjoyed this talk as Bea had so much enthusiasm and some very good ideas on all sorts of different topics. I will remember Jonny’s question about a Facebook campaign for funeral directors for a while and Bea’s ideas on this were remarkable and very unique.

Next up came my favourite talk of the day from Craig Burgess. Craig comical presentation style amused the audience but his message was a very serious one and one we can all learn a lot from. I think this talk inspired me the most as I got my thinking about my teaching career. I have been trying to teach 11 – 16 year olds why some design is good and some is not so good for such as long time with little success (that and the fact I am not a designer!). Although a good design is very much in the eye of the viewer, it is clear that some designs are clearer good and some are clearly magic. Craig’s talk gave me some great ideas on how to get this message across. Thanks Craig!

Having already thoroughly enjoyed David Coveney’s talk at WordCamp UK in Edinburgh earlier in the year, it was great to listen to “Be A Better Businessman” again with some great improvements and tweaks to the talk, focusing clearly on the ethics of business. David’s story of Abbey National not treating him well some years ago certainly got me thinking about business and they way to run or not to run a business.

Lunch was next and a cracking spread of Pizza’s and garlic bread was included in the ticket price, excellent value at a total cost of £11.25. What seemed like an unlimited supply of drinks, including coffee and beer made for a wonderful lunch time, mingling with many in attendance. I often find that the informal chatter is the best part of these meetups.

Jason Brewster then engaged the audience after lunch with “UX for the public sector”. Jason’s talk was a breath of fresh air talking about the design and how learning how the brain effects the way in which design are perceived really gave me some good points to remember when creating websites. Remember that the eye looks at a page in the letter ‘F’!

The day finished with Rachel Shillcock telling us “How to understand what makes you special”. This was Rachel’s first speaking gig and I thought she made an excellent job of it and gave us all something to think about – well done Rachel!.

So that brings me to sum up my thoughts. The main things that I have taken out of the event are as follows:

  • Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses; I thought this tweet summed this up perfectly.
  • Be positive and believe in yourself. Push yourself to do new things in order to improve.
  • I want to speak at an event! Problem is I am not sure what to talk about really.

I look forward to the Digital Barn 3 next year and other events in between!

Published by

Mark Wilkinson

Lead developer & owner at Highrise Digital @highrisedigital. Develops the @wpbroadbean plugins. Former teacher.

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