Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Phizzpop Design Challenge

Last week myself and two others from Telligent (Ken Hanson, markup master, and Kyle Beyer, backend genius and generally kick ass at attacking a challenging project with a good strategy) traveled to Austin to compete in Microsoft's Phizzpop Design Challenge.

The format of the competition makes for an interesting challenge. You get a day and a half of training on microsoft's new Expression Studio. at the end of the training on the second day (tuesday afternoon) they present the challenge that we have to design for and send you on your way for the next 2 and a half days to design and develop your solution and prepare a presentation to sell your idea to a panel of 3 judges. I think this format has potential, but there is one major flaw. The Expression Studio software is very new, and isn't even complete yet. I understand that this is a great way for microsoft to get some feedback and input on their new tools, but it makes for a very stressful, and sometimes disastrous 3 days of furiously paced work.

Microsoft had people on site to help us with the software through out the competition, but they could only help so much (big props go to Josh Holmes for his help and efforts). They were of great service to us and the other teams, but didn't seem to know much more than what we were able to figure out on our own. Adding to the software's downfalls were our own. We found out we were going to the competition about a week before hand, so we were looking at the expression studio software for the first time monday morning at the training. some of the teams obviously know quite a bit about the software already giving them a huge advantage, but obviously thats the nature of competition and its no ones fault but our own.

On the other hand, it has some really nice features as well. If Fireworks would adopt a few of the cool features and tools found in Blend i would be a happy man. They also have a very nice philosophy for work flow from designer to developer. I hope that this continues to evolve... adobe needs to take some notes.

Overall we had fun, created a really nice piece, and I got to work and get to know a couple of cool guys. We worked furiously with lots of heart and effort. Our 10am to 4am work days took a toll on us and by the time i got home on saturday i was basically sick from exhaustion. We didn't win (that honor went to thirteen23 and they deserved it), but I think we came up with a great, realistic solution. If we had been able to develop some more of our silverlight pieces and created a flashy presentation I think we would have had a real chance at winning. It was very dissapointing to not win, and i think it made it worse that they don't tell anyone what place you came in. There was no closure. No satisfaction. No tangible results to tell us how well we did.

I tried to keep a record of our design process, and you can see some of that in my flickr stream. The home page design is here and the interior pages along with some misc picts and things can be found here. If you have any feedback, positive or negative, feel free to post it up here or on my flickr account.

Oh, and did I mention that I had to present our project in front of a packed bar full of people? I haven't had to do anything like that in a loooong time. It went reasonably well though.

1 comment:

Sean said...

I can say that their solution was kick-ass - and ready to implement in the real world - today!

Congrats guys - hey, you win some, you lose some!