This week I was in Johannesburg for the debut of Tech4Africa, a conference about web technology in the African context. It was a fantastic experience, an opportunity to learn from and meet some great people, and I will most certainly be back next year (but hey, Gareth, let’s move it to Cape Town next year!). Yes, there were the usual small conference hiccups, but nothing that can overshadow the importance and significance of this event.
The mere fact that we were able to listen to speakers like Clay Shirky, Andy Budd, and John Resig, as well as some top South African thinkers & doers, and discuss with them the uniquely challenging opportunities that exist here in Africa, made this conference a winner. The content was mostly great, but the conference was more than that — it was about being inspired and energized about being in this industry, at this time, in Africa. You should follow Tech4Africa and its head organizer, Gareth Knight, for updates on the conference. And no matter where you live, you should attend next year. This event is here to stay.
I also had the great opportunity to speak on a web design panel with Allan Kent, Basheera Khan, and Mike Lewis. We took a User-Centered Design (UCD) approach to redesigning Payfine.co.za, a web site that allows South Africans to pay the many traffic fines they get every… well… every month or so.
We’ve never met each other before the conference, and we were all in different locations. So, since we had to do this remotely and in our limited spare time, we broke the process up into three distinct user experience elements and each took responsibility for one of the tasks: content strategy (me), interaction design (Bash), and visual design (Mike). We collaborated a lot along the way, but we decided to each lead the creation of one piece of the puzzle, and then put it all together in a coherent story (this was Allan’s job!).
The end result? Well, you should judge for yourself. Here is what Payfine currently looks like: