Trip report: Shop Talk 2

Shop Talk is best described by the tagline on its website, “a retreat for interactive studio owners and bosspeople”. After attending the 1st incarnation back in Portland in March, Todd had this to say:

Shop Talk was probably the most important event I’ve ever attended as a web designer. The lessons learned in those two days usually take a lifetime to acquire, and the openness, warmth, and willingness to share among the attendees was truly beautiful and cathartic.

Todd and I were honored to be invited to Shop Talk 2, which this time, took place in the beautiful desert city of Palm Springs, California. Many of the same players from the first event also returned — which I had not met — but quickly felt at home since everyone already knew each other. The level of transparency and sharing by our peers in attendance was incredible, and really mirrors the same kind of values we take to heart both at Four Kitchens and the open-source communities we engage with.

It’s also refreshing to take a step back from the technology. While everyone present had companies that designed and developed sites and apps — words like “CMS” and “Javascript” almost never came up. Instead, we talked about the things that happen behind the scenes, that keep our companies successful and competitive — so we can all keep on doing the things we love. I also can’t go without saying that that Happy Cog did an amazing job organizing the event. Everything from the beautiful hotel and round-table format to the swag bags and group dinner. The attention to detail left nothing for us to worry about so that we could instead focus on diving deeply into these important and challenging topics.

The ideas born out of Shop Talk, and subsequent talks with our Web Chefs, have already led to some key improvements for our processes across the board — with more on the way to come. As we reflect on a great year, we’re looking forward to taking a break during these holidays to relax and spend time with our families. We’re even more excited for the things to come in 2013, as well going to Shop Talk 3 (TBD). I hear Antigua is nice in the spring.

If you’re interested in learning more about Shop Talk 2, Cecy put together this great Storify which captures our adventure.

Photo credit: A Million Ideas poster by Hand Drawn Creative

Aaron Stanush is a Creative Director and Partner at Four Kitchens who loves solving problems using UX, typography, and mobile design patterns.

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