FOWA – It’s all about exactly that

This year’s FOWA was my first, and what an event it turned out to be. There are so many exciting things in store for us and I was delighted to get an insight into the Future of Web Applications!

All of the presentations were interesting and beneficial and I struggled to whittle them down to a compiled a list of points from those that I found particularly interesting, but here goes.

The first talk to really get me thinking was ‘Get Niche, Rich and Go Mainstream’ with David Prager. I’d always personally brushed over Niche (or was it Nitch ;)) markets thinking that there wasn’t really a huge amount of revenue to be made there. Turns out I was very wrong, these are the untapped markets and it would seem the web is leaning towards this. It would make sense that the more relevant you can make your web app to someone the more likely they are to use you time and time again to get the best most suited product.

The next presentation to have my mind boggled was ‘Going Global’ with Cat Lee, the statistic that really sticks in my brain from Cat’s presentation is this: Facebook was translated into French in 24 hours, yes 24 hours! That’s incredible and how did they do it? They got their users to…genius. Why pay a third party or in-house employees to complete a requirement for you when you can ask your users whom are willing and eager to help. Facebook has created such a dedicated and loyal community that they want to work from them for free, this is proof of the power of crowd sourcing.

Both Kevin Rose’s and Gary V‘s presentations left me with some points that seemed logical but one’s I’d never sat down and identified before. One of those being over featuring, by that I mean giving your users too many features. Instead do fewer features well continuing to improve on those that the users love. Remember to never think you know your users, you don’t. Ask them what they want – a feedback form is not good enough – get them to tell you what works for them and what doesn’t, that way they feel like the contributed and contribution gives you a sense of belonging. Something like seems ideal.

I have to mention Bruce Lawson‘s talk on HTML5 – how very exciting! HTML5 really has something new to bring to the game, I can’t wait for all current browsers to support it (come on IE). Bruce’s Friday talk was SO good Ryan replaced his own panel debate on Saturday with another talk from Bruce, upon hearing what he had to say and demonstrate I’d definitely encourage people to experiment with it, although not on a live deployment just yet as it’s not fully supported.

I think my favourite presentation has to be one on Accessibility by Robin Christopherson – How to Increase the Accessibility of Your Web App. Firstly, what an amazing guy if you get the chance to see one of his presentations please go, it will be worth it. Before listening to this presentation I’d always kind of skipped over accessibility but I now realise the error of my ways! I did not realise that by making your site inaccessible you are cutting out a sizable slice of the market. If you’ve never put your site through a screen reader, do it (here’s a free download). I guarantee it will shed a new light on the importance of accessibility.

In my opinion FOWA was a great success (despite the issues with wifi) and an exciting look into the technologies we have awaiting us. I always find it so liberating to mingle and debate topics with such passionate, intelligent and driven people and FOWA was buzzing with just those types.

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