A trip to the Arcade Museum, a tour of Staropramen, and a Thai massage between talks…all these things take a long time to be plan! I asked WebExpo CEO Šárka Štrossová how the preparations are going. I caught her right as she was testing the best donuts in Prague — the same ones that you’ll have for breakfast on September 22nd.
Šárka, how are the donuts?
Donuter Donuts are kings among donuts! My colleague Pavlína and I kept hearing that we had to taste them. So, we went to their shop in Žižkov and fell in love! That’s why we’re having Donuter Donuts for breakfast on Friday at WebExpo — they’ll even be color-coded! Orange icing (orange) will be for business participants, pink (strawberry) for designers and green (pistachio) for developers.
Food is a hot topic at WebExpo, are there any special stands this year?
We often have people at the stands, who come from the world of IT. For example, Teplá Kačka will have a stand — an IT analyst based in London, who will be at WebExpo and preparing Beijing duck. Or you can buy a quiche and a cake from Tartaletka, who goes out with a guy from IT. I also recommend Konečně vývar (A clear soup at last), where you can make your own DIY soup.
When do you actually start planning WebExpo?
Preparations don’t ever really start or end. We find inspiration all year round. I read Twitter, I attend professional lectures, and I read articles about trends and new books … I’m just looking at all the trends, successes in the online world, celebrities and new faces on the scene. We start approaching and interviewing guests more than a year in advance.
And preparing the accompanying program?
During WebExpo, you can also get a Thai massage between talks. And of course, we have three parties every year that are always the source of the best photos and stories from WebExpo.
What topics, or what trends, did you follow this year?
We clearly see that the future will belong to voice interface. That’s why I’m especially looking forward to the interactive talk from Christophe Willemsen. The online world lives on developing artificial intelligence and exploring virtual reality, which are being addressed with chatbots or IoT. And of course, WebExpo understandably can’t ignore UX!
So, how did you end up inviting this year’s biggest names?
Our idea maker Lukáš Plíhal raved about Anton and Irene … and we immediately understood why. They are real design gods, who have won numerous prizes and invented truly innovate things from websites to interactive documents about co-living. It’s no wonder that all the conferences want them as speakers. We are so lucky to have them as part of program at WebExpo!
And what about Erika Hall?
Her talks on design and research have gravity, precise content, and a great point. Erika Hall is an experienced speaker, who has traveled around the world. What’s more, we love that she’s not afraid to surprise people — she came dressed as a princess to one of her talks. :-)
We were really excited by her thinking, which she’s able to skillfully pass on to others. That’s why I’m thrilled that in addition to her talk, she’ll be leading a workshop on Sunday about team research.
How do you convince world speakers to come from the other end of the world to a small Central European city?
WebExpo has gained a strong reputation over the last 10 years. Participants and speakers compliment us on how comfortable they feel here. And WebExpo even helped inspire Avi Itzkovitch to establish his own conference, UX Salon, in Israel.
The location of WebExpo is also attractive for guests — they hear a lot of positive things about Prague and want to see it for themselves. And maybe the biggest help — I’ve been sending out a heartwarming welcome email for a couple of years that makes it hard to say no to coming to WebExpo. :-)
And what else will be fun for conference attendees?
Our legendary conference parties and also the upcoming trips that we have planned before the conference starts.
What exactly are the plans for the trips?
We’ll go for lunch at a medieval tavern and play arcade games at the Arcade Museum in Červený Újezd! This is a dream come true for all those who grew up on Mortal Combat or Space Invaders. :-) In the late afternoon, you can take a tour of brewery Staropramen and go for dinner at Potrefena Husa Na Verandách. It will a great way to spend the day and get to know other people — feel free to join for the whole program or only part of it.
I assume that you’ll be at the Thursday party?
I wouldn’t miss it! The Thursday warm-up party at ZOOM Restaurant marks the beginning of the whole conference. You can also register and pick up your badge, so you can go straight to your first talk the next day. Don’t worry, you can still get a donut!
Is there anything that you can’t imagine WebExpo without?
Coffee from Doubleshot! I’m have about two cups a day, but there are a lot of attendees that can handle up to four espressos a day.