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ThinkVis 4: A Review

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

This Saturday rather than enjoying the rest the weekend had to offer I jumped in the back of a car and headed to Leeds for Think Visibility (or ThinkVis for short).

ThinkVis follows pretty much the normal conference mould in that it gets experts to speak in front of an audience about stuff that earns them money, in the case of ThinkVis this centres primarily on the world of search marketing.

However a few points differentiate it from the rest:

  1. Firstly it’s held on a Saturday so no getting to skive off work. Yet oddly it makes it better as you don’t have to worry too much about work the following day.
  2. Secondly it’s held in the north, more specifically Leeds. Although conferences are starting to head a little further north there is still a lack of decent northern conferences.
  3. Thirdly it’s the after party. It has to be the first conference after party I’ve be to that has been held in both a casino and without a DJ. I hate that most conferences seem to forget that geeks like us would rather talk than dance whilst being bombarded with the latest dance and R’n’B music at deafening levels. For this simple fact ThinkVis has to be one of my favourite conferences.

So what of the actual conference itself. Although I’m a designer and not an SEO I found a good number of the sessions rather engaging, possibly more for the presenters personality than actual content, but given that with one dull speaker I could have been falling asleep I think this is a triumph. Sessions like the site clinic and accessibility session by Ian Pouncey were my personal highlights as well as of course seeing Dave speak for the first time. This was primarily my reason for going to ThinkVis after knowing him for 4 years and never quite understanding why he gets the celebrity reaction I’ve heard about I thought it was time to see what the big deal was all about. I’m not sure if I’m any better informed but it was good fun all the same and he was certainly one of the biggest personalities in the room.

I think the conference is run really well and has a very friendly and light hearted atmosphere, very possibly an extension of Dom Hodgson‘s (conference organiser) own personality. Rather than feeling a corporate or money grabbing affair, or even that ‘networky’ it was nice to be in an environment where people genuinely seemed to have gone just to hang out. It was great also to meet and speak to the likes of Mel Carson, Stephen Pavlovich and Sean Hardaker who I have only spoken to through some electronic device before. Being approached in a crowd by someone who knows me is something I’m not used to but was rather cool.

In all the conference was great, if there was the opportunity to go again I think I would definitely go, however I’m not sure if I could justify the benefits for work as I am still a designer but I’m sure for those more into the SEO community it’s much more beneficial.