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Webstock 2013: Craig Mod & the Checkered Shirt Society

Posted 5 years ago in Platform by Philip Fierlinger

We’ve been big supporters of Webstock for many years and the team at Xero loves going to the conference each year. To celebrate this year we threw a party, because frankly we’ve got a nice new HQ with enough space to have a party. It was great fun hanging out with all kinds of designers and developers from the community, along with the Webstock team and a bunch of the invited speakers.

Sushi with Craig Mod

Earlier in the afternoon Craig Mod stopped by for lunch with the design team. Craig is well known for his Subcompact Publishing manifesto, so we wanted to talk with him about the type of content publishing we’re working with: our user guide. The guide is comprehensive and plenty of customers praise it highly, but the interface never got our proper design love, so it’s not exactly easy to dive in and know where to start, it’s hard to publish & update, and it’s broken on mobile devices. As we’re in the process of rethinking our guide, we’re also hoping to weave in other related content: commentary and ideas from the community, along with educational videos. And of course we want it to be beautiful on any device. Not to mention easy to publish & update.


It’s no small challenge to interweave all that content in a simple way, in a way people actually enjoy learning and are inspired to learn more.

Craig shared some really simple but powerful ideas and showed us quite a few inspiring examples to help us dream up some new approaches. A couple key concepts he outlined were:

  • Your publishing tool shapes the content – if it’s easy & fun to publish, it’s a good bet it will be easy & fun to consume
  • The publishing interface and tools should only appear if & when needed
  • People’s attention has shifted to 2 minute chunks – think of ways to deliver content in small packets that can be consumed on the go, but are still nourishing 
  • Slice up the content, make it consumable, use big pull outs and big quotes to lead people in

A few of the tools he talked about and showed us were:

We also talked about injecting narrative and personality and a distinct voice into our help content.

It was fantastic getting Craig’s perspective and thrilling to see that we’re all contributing ideas and solving really tricky problems at such an important inflection point in the history of content creation and publishing.

Tomorrow the conference kicks off and we’re eagerly anticipating a heavy dose of more brilliant ideas and inspiration. See you there?


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