3 Insights from SXSW Interactive

April 11, 2016


Let’s start off with the big buzz this year, virtual reality (VR). VR is taking the world by storm and SXSW Interactive capitalized on it this year. The crowds were hungry to see the latest and greatest technology and sponsors made sure to bring their best to the table. VR is a wonderful medium to translate an experience, but the truth is – it still has some kinks that need to be worked out. The good news is an army of people and tech companies (including DI) are out there trying to perfect it. For now, expect to see a handful of really great VR experiences, and several average attempts. Most experiences will also be from a single stationary point of view, but we look forward to seeing development for users to move around a space. Keep a watchful eye out because more advances are coming quickly and an increasing number of organizations (sports teams to fast food chains) are racing to embrace this new technology.


While VR held the spotlight, the behind the scenes star was experience designwhere a user’s entire journey is carefully crafted. Even though the idea of experience design is not new, there is an increasing emphasis on technology being a transparent linchpin in the user’s journey. A panel entitled “Designing Happiness” went into the details of crafting an optimal journey for user enjoyment. While all of the panelists came from different backgrounds and specialties, they agreed on the themes of appealing to the tactile nature of humans and having technology seamlessly incorporated at every stage of the experience. Our human tactile nature is built-in and in order to truly create an optimal experience, it needs to be fully addressed. When it comes to technology, throwing it into a process is no longer good enough; it must be carefully planned, incorporated and executed. If tech is not a barrier to a user’s experience, there is a greater opportunity for enjoyment.


While transparency and fluidity are key to making a happy experience, Airbnb’s Steve Selzer challenged the crowd to build friction back into the experience. The friction he’s advocating is not negative, but rather a subtle process that has positive repercussions by causing self-growth, self-reflection and fostering connections with others. These goals may seem lofty, but they are well worth exploring. Design and technology should harness their power to cause positive change in the world. Even if it’s accomplished one user at a time.

SXSW is a microcosm of tech, design, music and a whole lot more. (And by more we mean a unicorn and some crazy tacos.) It is an incredible place to bombard your senses and embrace your inner sponge to soak up as much as possible. We’re looking forward to returning next year!

Photo: Getty Images