Webmaster Jam Sessions | September 27, 2006

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the very first Webmaster Jam Session in Dallas, Texas. Organised by the guys at CoffeeCup Software the event was primarily targeted towards their user base. Best known for their easy to use HTML editor, you would be excused for thinking the conference was a more entry level affair. However I was actually very impressed by the level of the presentations and the knowledge of the audience. When quizzed on standards usage by Derek Featherstone and Eathan Marcotte, the vast majority of the audience said they used standards. This is a testament to the standards based approach advocated by CoffeeCup and exactly how far web standards have penetrated.

The event was very well subscribed, with around 400 attendees spread across two tracks. The event was well run and everybody I spoke to enjoyed the event. The organisers went to great lengths to ensure all the speakers were comfortable, including sorting out airport transfers, evening meals and a generous bar tab. Nick and J went out of their way to make us welcome and even turned down the aircon so I’d feel at home. OK, so that last comment was a lie, but the aircon was pretty cold and it made the people in my session laugh.

All the sessions I attended were of a very high quality, but a few stood out in my mind. Cameron Moll delivered an excellent presentation entitled Essential Web Skills. A mixture of slick visuals, beautiful storytelling and even a musical interlude, Cameron held the audience captive for the whole sixty minutes. With such a well executed presentation, I think Cameron is going to find his speaking services increasingly in demand.

Another highlight for me was seeing Jared Spool discuss why good content must suck. Jared is one of the webs pre-eminent usability speakers and now I can see why. His presentation was engaging, insightful and very entertaining. Who knew usability could be so much fun? I had a bit of a chat with Jared after the event and hopefully we’ll be able to get him over to the UK for next years d.Construct.

Last, but most definitely not least was John Moore’s session entitled Starbucks Tribal Knowledge. I’ve come across the Brand Autopsy blog before, but have never seen John speak. However I’d heard he was a great speaker and I wasn’t disappointed. John gave a fascinating presentation on the brand and marketing strategy of Starbucks Coffee. Despite having little to do with the web, the presentation touched on a number of interesting issues such as building your business, not your brand, and how to make the ordinary extraordinary. However dressed as a coroner replete with to-tag business cards, it was the high energy delivery that sealed the deal for me. I’d definitely recommend seeing him speak, and will be buying a copy of his book for my marketing girlfriend when I get a chance.

As well as the presentations, I met some great people in and around the event including Andy Rutledge, Mark Newhouse, Jared Christensen and Rob Jones of Frog Design. It was also lots of fun hanging out with the speakers and CoffeeCup crew, and I look forward to seeing everybody at SXSW next year, if not sooner.

If you want to check out the event, I believe podcasts and vidiocasts are already online as well as a mass of fantastic pictures from the event. If you are in or around the Dallas area, I definitely recommend you check the conference out next year.

Posted at September 27, 2006 3:02 PM


Nick Longo-CEO CoffeeCup Software said on September 27, 2006 4:23 PM

Andy- Thanks so much for speaking at the conference. You were wonderful and I can’t wait to see you in 2007!

Brian Artka said on September 27, 2006 5:35 PM

I am in the middle of my “6 month” CSS/XHTML learning curve and this conference was essentially amazing to me for the amount of inspiration and content I have learned. Andy, your session and particularly the open question session was excellent. Your passion for spreading web standards is beyond what anyone else has explained to me and I just wanted to thank you for that =)

Web Design Super Hero in the making,

Brian Artka

Andrew Newland said on September 27, 2006 5:53 PM

hey Andy, I recently (about 2.5 mths ago) read you book and I learned alot from it. When I head about the Jam Session i jumped at the chance to come and hear you speak and all the other great speakers that Coffee Cup brought to the table. Thanks for all the great tips you offered.

You might remember me as the guy that asked ‘Which is better a PC or a MAC?’ during the RoundTable session. For the record, a co-worker placed that question in without me knowing, which might explain my reaction when I heard my name called.

Can’t wait till next year…..

Ryan Merket said on September 29, 2006 5:15 AM

I too saw your session. Thanks for everything in Dallas. I hope to see you at the ‘07 session, if not sooner at SXSW.

Mark Newhouse said on September 29, 2006 6:42 PM


Thanks for the mention during your session and on this post. It was great to meet you in Dallas, and I look forward to seeing you again, soon. Sorry I had to leave early - especially because my flight ended up being delayed three hours - three hours I could have been at the conference instead of at the airport.

Anyway, just wanted to voice my agreement that this was a great conference, and to thank you for your presentation.

Scott Fegette said on October 3, 2006 8:11 PM

Andy- your session was a personal highlight for me (amazing!), it was great to meet you in person in Dallas this year. Hope our paths cross again soon (perhaps at SXSW ‘07?).