BarCamp Charlotte

I had the pleasure of heading over to Area 15 in NoDa on Oct 17th for the second edition of BarCamp Charlotte. BarCamp is a user-generated conference, which encourages attendees to pitch for their chance to present a session on a topic of their choice.

“The name ‘BarCamp’ is a playful allusion to the event’s origins, with reference to the hacker slang term, foobar: BarCamp arose as a spin-off of Foo Camp, an annual invitation-only participant driven conference hosted by open source publishing luminary Tim O’Reilly.”

Wikipedia: BarCamp

The event was organised by volunteers and funded by sponsors from various industries. There was a wide range of pitches, which were voted upon and then scheduled into the morning and afternoon sessions.

As usual at conferences I had a tough time deciding which sessions to choose but in the end, I went for the following:

  • iPhone app development
  • Intro to HTML 5
  • UI/UX Web Application Interfaces
  • How to get the other 9 places on Google
  • How to Market Anything Online

I was disappointed to have missed Down the Rabbit Hole, Balloon Twisting, Zero Budget Film Making and Eco box Shipping Containers as Home Sweet Home, as I’m sure they turned out to be pretty entertaining! Other sessions are listed at the end of this article.

In order to give you a taste of the session content, I have provided my notes from the sessions.

iPhone app development – Jeremy Olsen & Wess Cope

This presentation was split in two. The first section, lead by Jeremy Olsen, discussed the success of particular apps on the iTunes store. It was interesting to hear the opinions, many of which encouraged the use of rich interface design over basic functionality. Discussion also surrounded ‘hit base’ apps needing a large product launch to force sales and make it into the top 100.

The second section centered around the technical aspects of app development. Wess Cope detailed his methods of app development using web services, encouraging the storage of data in Google’s App Engine. He also recommended Stanford’s free iPhone Application Programming Series.

Intro to HTML 5 – Adam Hunter

Adam led this session which touched upon some of the elements HTML5. The main items were Geolocation, drag and drop, paste across domains, canvas tag, form validation, local storage and @font-face.
A more detailed explanation with examples can be found here: HTML5 Presentation

During discussions Wess Cope recommended the use of Sproutcore. Sproutcore is used by the Apple UI team and I’m told delivers HTML5 extremely fast!

“SproutCore is an open-source JavaScript framework. Its goal is to allow developers to create web applications with advanced capabilities and a user experience comparable to that of desktop applications.”

Wikipedia: SproutCore

UI/UX Web Application Interface – Wess Cope & Justin Holt

This was an interesting session which looked at interface design and user testing. Justin Holt and Wess Cope presented their UI experiences with heels.com and sixcentral.com respectively. Heels.com recently went through an impressive re-design, based upon extensive user feedback. Justin, a designer for heels.com, highlighted need for clear layout, navigation and strong ‘call-to’ action elements on sites with such a vast amount of content.

Wess, a developer of sixcentral.com spoke of the beta testing process and the invaluable feedback from testers. By opening up the application to 100 users, from different industries, it enabled them to create an application which suited the needs of most prospective users. He also touched upon ‘hallway testing’ and importance of colour.

Recommended tools were Lighthouse (bug tracking) and Get Satisfaction (user feedback and support).

Getting the 9 other listings on page 1 of Google – Robert Enriquez

Robert presented tips which will help your site rank on page 1 of Google.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
To achieve a page one listing on Google it is important to write articles, press releases, post videos and events, utilise social media tools, submit to relevant directories and optimise your Google business listing by including targeted keywords.

Here’s a list of sites where you can post articles:

Press releases can be posted on the following sites:

Videos can be posted here:

Digital Asset Optimization (DAO)
It is important to include targeted keywords in titles, descriptions and alt tags of your assets. The asset description should also include unique content if possible.

You should concentrate on gathering the correct ‘back links’ to your digital assets. In many cases, the sites hosting your assets (YouTube etc) may provide more than one link, it is important to reference the link which Google ranks highly.

Online Reputation Management (ORM)
In order to maintain a reputable presence online, it is important to manage your profile on social media sites such as Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook. You can use services such as KnowEm to control and even register your company name on various sites.

Universal Search
Finally, Robert encouraged the submission of content to more than 3-5 sites, which will increase the possibility of link referrals. This can be time consuming so you should use use 3rd party sites for faster and/or large submissions.

How to Market Anything Online – Corey Creed

In this session Corey introduced his 4Ps of Internet Marketing, which if you follow closely, we help you to effectively market your product online. A brief summary of the 4Ps are below:

Position Marketing
This relates to your position in search engines. Corey spoke of the importance of people knowing about your product (in order for them to find you with their keywords). You need to understand the keywords users search for to find your product and avoid concentrating on the name of your company. Google AdWords Keyword Tool can be very helpful during the keyword research phase. It may also be helpful to budget for an initial Google AdWords campaign as this is helpful in finding out user search patterns, which you can use to rank well organically in the future.

Partnership Marketing:
The importance of partnership marketing cannot be understated. It is extremely important to build trusted online partnerships, as this will help to promote your products. There are many ways to create partnerships, which include utilising trusted directories, social media networks (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook), article sites (eZine) and press release sites. Working at these relationships encourage people to learn, talk and share your products.

Permission Marketing
If a user has given you permission to market to them, the likelihood is that they know, like and trust you and are extremely valuable as they are interested in your products. In order to gain permission, it is important to encourage users to sign up for your email newsletter, RSS and social media feeds. Email newsletters are proven to work but you must take great care in presenting concise content in a well designed format. Another handy tip is to send a response exactly 24 hours after sign-up as there is a good chance that the user will be online and will remember your company.

(im)Provement
The presentation of your branding, website, emails, content and social media presence is extremely important as you need to present a professional, trustworthy image. Research has shown that users will spend more money on your website if it looks credible.

Along with branding and design, you should also assess your website analytics and recognise user patters such as ‘enter’ and ‘exit’ pages. You can also increase conversions by creating promotional pages for targeted campaigns (Google AdWords).

Talking Shop

Along with the presenters, I had a great time chatting with locals in attendance which included Josh McGlinn, Jeff Elder, Ben Ullman, Derek Hollis and David Wells. Oh and I mustn’t forget a big thanks goes to Lincoln Baxter III for sending through his notes from the marketing session!

The sessions I didn’t make

  • 45 Questions about the Web
  • Personal vs business brands – by @summerplum
  • Manage Social Networks – by @dizzySEO
  • How to write your resume
  • Teaching geeks to talk to suits
  • Eco box shipping containers as home sweet home
  • Simple Content Management
  • Fail Camp
  • Future of Journalism
  • Other Phones (Palm Pre)
  • Creating webinars

Here are some photos and articles (via @budesigns)