First, I'd like to thank Melissa and all the good folks at IDEA for the award and the chance to participate. I am terribly excited.
Second, I wanted to explain why I'm going and suggest that you consider it as well. As some of you may know, my career was primed with years of studying literary theory, then I spent almost six years in politics. My path to online marketing was not so direct, to say the least. While persuasive writing was always a part of that, I had to learn more than I ever would have expected.
I taught myself bits of HTML so I wouldn't have to wait for the I.T. guy to fix my problems. I kept up with tech news because that was sudden the means of communication. I veered into unexpected territory to stay ahead of the curve. Likewise, I predict the next important things we need to learn as marketers and online folks in general will be covered at IDEA 2008.
Grandmas On Amazon
A few years ago, the online experience was radically different. Read some books published in the mid-1990s and you'll see what I mean. It was a major project just to get a website up and running, never mind e-commerce and regular communication with your customers. Dynamic content was still a dream.
So we spent most of your time educating. But now, due to that education, extensive broadband access, lowering of prices across the board, and a general acclimation to the web, we have moved well beyond those early days. I'm willing to bet that your mother or grandmother could (or does) use Amazon.com. That is no small feat.
In the web 1.0 era, websites lived in the I.T. department. Now, they're housed in marketing. Before we were educating the customer; now, the customer is telling us exactly how he wants to interact with our brands online (and we've finally got the metrics to prove it).
Which brings me back to IDEA 2008. The design, usability, and information architecture topics covered at this conference will the next big things we need to learn.
While I haven't taken an art class since college, I recognize that I need to sharpen my eye for design. While I think I know a good amount about user experience, I need metrics and tests to back up my assertions these days.
Just as I taught myself HTML and learned the business of web 2.0 from the ground up, so too will I need to be fluent in engagement design and good information architecture. And likely, so will you.
Of course, the goal if all this is now firmly centered on the customer, where it ought to have been in the first place. All of this is to ensure that they find what they're looking for and get it without any trouble. In other words, marketers better learn to provide value and a good experience, rather than interrupting it with their sales pitch.
I'm excited to go to the conference; the program looks spectacular. After going to an IA conference hosted by Adaptive Path, I am looking forward to hearing from their Co-Founder Jesse James Garrett. Also of particular note is local web 2.0 celeb David Armano from Critical Mass. While I'm sure all of the speakers will be brilliant, I am especially looking forward to hearing from these guys.
If you're already going, I encourage you to join the LinkedIn IDEA 2008 group and then look for me at the conference. (I'll be the only guy there named "DJ" guaranteed.)
I hope to see you there!
(Sidenote: Besides my free ticket, I get no compensation from the IDEA folks. I'm no shill; I really do believe all of this.)