Researching our communities, part 4: Presentations & panelsPosted: February 9, 2012
This is the fourth in a series of posts analyzing event attendance in the Austin design community. You can jump to any post using the links below.
- Overall community profile
- Lunches, happy hours, & workshops
- Presentations & panels
- Field trips & recommendations
Also, be sure to read the caveats for this analysis.
Yesterday we began to look at the particular interests and characteristics of people who enjoy lunches, happy hours, and field trips. Today we continue by investigating trends in community members who seek out various types of presentations and panels.
Peer Presentations (95 respondents)
Peer presentations were the most popular event overall. From my own experience, I can concur that these events tend to be well attended, as well as informative. Presentations by peers are a great way to keep up with practical developments in the field, as well as a way for practitioners to show off new tools and ideas. At the Austin UPA, we’ve also had a lot of success with opening group meetings for community members practicing conference talks (such as Amanda McGlothlin’s pre-SXSW talk last March on Designing for Android).
Peer presentations were popular with a high number of respondents. The low number who did not enjoy peer presentations made it difficult to observe reliable differences between the peer presentation group and others, but some possible differences emerged on factors relating to employment. For instance, peer presentations may hold slightly more interest for UX professionals than for professionals specializing in other areas. Also, people with more than ten years of experience in their field may possess greater interest in attending presentations by their peers.
Company Presentations (60 respondents)
Regardless, those who do want to attend company presentations tend to be more skilled than others in graphic design and less skilled in back-end development. They are more likely to learn by working with others at their companies, but are also more likely to feel that their workplaces are lacking in the areas of user research and work variety (suggesting that some of these individuals may be checking out other options for employment?). They are significantly more interested than others in learning about graphic design and marketing, and, to a lesser degree, logistics, estimation, and deliverables.
Those who are interested in company presentations are also especially interested in events held at offices and are more likely than others to miss events because they fail to keep track of what’s going on.
Peer Panels (74 respondents)
An alternative to a presentation by one member of the community is having multiple members present or discuss a topic. This provides a broader perspective on the subject matter, and it also allows presenters to share the burdens of preparation.
Those who want to attend peer panels show special interest in two primary areas: research and writing. People who are interested in attending events featuring panels of their peers tend to be significantly more interested than others in learning about research (which was also true of people interested in other types of events; namely, workshops and field trips). However, the big difference between peer panel people and the remainder of the community appears to be in the area of writing. Peer panel people are more likely than others to list writing among their skills. It is perhaps less surprising, then, that these people may be more likely than others to study their craft via online forums (although this result is statistically iffy).
Interestingly, peer panel people are more likely than average to be members of the WordPress Austin meetup. It is unclear whether this is a cause or a consequence of the aforementioned behaviors and interests.
Company Panels (42 respondents)
Trends for those interested in company panels are similar to those for individuals interested in company presentations. These people show significantly higher interest than others in learning about logistics, estimation, and deliverables, and are also more interested in learning about testing and metrics, as well as critiquing. They are more likely than others to feel that proper critiquing is lacking from their workplaces, and they are more likely to wish for greater variety in their work. Interestingly, the data suggest that company panel aficionados may be less likely than others to miss events because the topics of those events don’t interest them, so perhaps there is greater opportunity for experimentation with company panel topics.