Leeds Digital Festival 2018 – Field Notes 1

It’s been a month since the fantastic Leeds Digital Festival came to a close and, if we’re completely honest we’ve been so busy we’ve only just got around to getting the team together to chat and compare notes.

Here’s the first from our field notes:

Innovation in UI/UX panel hosted by Bolser

This one immediately caught our eye for a few reasons. First, the hosts Bolser occupy the floor below us and they’re a great bunch, plus we attended a couple of their 2017 events which were great so we’d been looking out for their 2018 offering. The icing on the cake is that the event was at the Northern Monk brewery right next to us at Marshalls Mill. Sold!

The panel included Hanneke Kilburn, Head of Design at Bolser, Jack Hartley from Leeds based Security Camera product ‘Cocoon’, Adam Fellows from the EE network and Liam Hutchinson from Thoughtworks.



Hanneke presented an easily digestible take on what Bolser use in their ‘playbook’ to ensure innovation thrives – with a focus on collaboration, consistency and planning. One particularly nice point was around ‘sweating the small stuff’ – which is something we believe is often the difference between good and great – where true quality often comes from.

Jack from Cocoon showed some nice insights into how their design team iteratively develop their product and choose to adopt a ‘minimum viable product’ approach to keep the design & refinement process always in motion. This resonated with us when thinking about past work with some clients – the more painful being where the client had slowed or paused a stage to maybe involve more decision makers or hesitated to commit on their original vision. A minimum viable product approach (providing it aligns with still achieving the original brief) can still be improved on later and losing momentum in the development of a project can be a killer.

This leads to what Liam from Thoughtworks spoke about. He explained if we look at many successful products and services today such as Facebook, Uber and Apple products, their first iteration wasn’t the highly polished version we’re seeing today. Great products and services aren’t always amazing on their first public outing. It’s a journey of improvement and iteration to greatness.

One particular standout moment was when Liam was asked by an audience member if it’s a good idea to involve the client in the design process – specifically designing with them alongside you. It was refreshing when Liam responded with something to the effect of “that sounds like a terrible idea”.  In the follow-up conversation, Liam did go on to highlight how clients do play a major role in the design process – but the important point for us is that when clients use professional design services, they need to trust in what we’re offering as a service. To be honest, if the client needs to personally instruct lots of specific design changes, we’re not doing our job well enough or haven’t made sure we’ve agreed a tight enough brief.

Overall a great evening, great beer, great pizza and great conversation. Massive props to Bolser for hosting! Here’s to the next one – we’ll be there.

Note: Header image stolen borrowed from our mates at Bolser.