ProductCamp Seattle Survey Results part 2 of 2 - Comments, Suggestions and Insight

This is the second of two blog posts that dive into the feedback we received on ProductCamp Seattle 2012.  The first post focuses on the quantitative data - this one explores specific feedback.  By sharing this with our community we hope to start conversations about what we can do better next year.

The following insights were derived from the answers to three open questions in our survey:

  • What did you find most useful at today's event?
  • What did you like the least about today’s event? What are your suggestions for improvement?
  • Do you have any feedback specific to the venue, or location?

I took the answers to all of these questions and grouped them. I then used the groups to draw insight. There are probably better methodologies, and if there are any analysts reading this (or face-palming) and want to have a shot I would be happy to share the source data.

Campers loved the venue (and the parking)....

"Made me wish I had a tech start up I could move in."

....but not everyone loved the location

Lake Washington prevents us from ever completely solving the Eastside vs Westside problem (unless we host on a boat next year?).  Our monthly events are in Mercer Island for this reason.  We knew Georgetown might be a little far south but we traded this against the quality of the venue and the parking.  This may be one of the reasons attrition was higher than expected. Would love to hear people's ideas in the comments below.


A few simple changes to the layout would enhance the experience

We spend a lot of time thinking about the 'flow' of the venue, in fact it is one of our criteria in selection. Unlike traditional conferences, ProductCamp encourages walking and movement!  There were a few recurring themes related to flow:

  • have a dedicated food / networking area as opposed to putting sessions in the food room
  • signage and maps would have been useful
  • arrange the rooms so the exit is at the back. People will be more like to invoke the law of two feet if they can slip in and out more easily

A lady whose name I did not catch offered some suggestions on information design. If you are that lady please contact us! We would love to hear your ideas.


Networking and talking shop are the most valued activities

You guys also asked for more time to network and talk as well as dedicated areas to just hang out.

Campers are divided on discussions vs. presentations

As expected we had a lot of feedback on the sessions themselves. Most of it fell into one of these two sentiments:

  • There were too many presentations: un-conferences are supposed to be about round-tables and conversation - not slideware
  • The discussion type sessions were less valuable and too unstructured. Many of the speakers were unprepared and did not bring content

Looks like we have a couple of different user personas within our audience.  If I find some time I am going to dig a bit deeper into this. There may even be some un-served user needs we are not serving - or some better ways to structure the agenda.  But either way you like to have both types of content and we should continue to support that.  So....


Setting better expectations ahead of sessions would help people plan their time

You guys want to know the session formats ahead of time (e.g. discussion vs presentation) so you can follow what you like.  You also want to know a bit about the speakers.


"I would like the presenters to give an elevator pitch for their session. It helps to preview the presenter."

"it would have improved my experience a good deal if those more structured and organized sessions were proposed ahead of time"


A few shout outs for some presenters that got specific mentions

These sessions and presenters were called out in our feedback - we thank you!


The volunteers, logistics and food (and happy hour) were very much appreciated

Thank you for your feedback!  We work hard to make sure that we can provide appropriate free food and refreshments - it is good to know that you guys value this.

Onward...

Thanks all for your feedback it is really appreciated. Maybe we can test out a few ideas at mini-PCS in March.  And for those of you who were wondering what happened to the (late addition) question If ProductCamp was held on a weekday, how would it affect the liklihood of you being able to attend? - only one respondent indicated they would be more likely to attend PCS if it was held on a weekday.

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Comment by Jon White on December 19, 2012 at 11:34am

In terms of your 'mild surprise'.  I think that when anyone is an expert in a particular topic and shares pragmatic, actionable advice - people get an incredible amount of value regardless of the level of detail.

Thank you for your feedback - online voting is something that has been done at other camps.  I like paper and stickies as it scales pretty well - I get scared when I think of 200+ people trying to connect to wifi ! Maybe there are SMS options out there?

Comment by Ashay Chaudhary on December 19, 2012 at 11:04am

Also, I really like the suggestion on the elevator pitch from the presenter/speaker. This elevator pitch will have to be limited duration (w/ no audience questions) to keep things moving along. Maybe 30 seconds, maybe a minute. 

Also, in the connected world of smartphones/tablets/laptops, maybe it is time to explore a simple online voting solution that can happen in parallel with the pitches. Just brainstorming here.

Comment by Ashay Chaudhary on December 19, 2012 at 10:57am

This is great information in both blog posts Jon, thanks for taking the time to do all this work in addition to all the effort all of the volunteers put in for the event itself. I don't think i'm alone in another round of applause - THANK YOU!!

I continue to be mildly surprised at the appreciation of my presentation/discussion. Last year was my first unconference and I managed to invoke the courage to propose a topic and speak, this year was easier. It wasn't a prepared presentation, just that the topic is interesting to me and I just jotted down a few bullet points to spur discussion. The excellent audience participation was key to a really great discussion. I'm sure there are a lot of you out there with a lot of knowledge/experience on various topics, I encourage you to share it when you can.

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