One thing can be said about the great lockdown of 2021: there’s been no shortage of things to watch. From the best Netflix shows to the launch of Disney+, there’s been plenty of entertainment to keep us occupied. But there’s only so much popcorn you can eat. And so design studios and creative organisations across the world have been working to feed our minds too, hosting webinars on topics aimed at helping us navigate a chaotic and confusing landscape and adapt our practice to the ever-changing ‘new normal’.
With so many hours in the day, though, it’s been impossible to attend all of them. And so there are lots of great webinars that you might have missed along the way. Thankfully, some of them have since been posted on YouTube and Vimeo, so you can catch up with them on-demand now. In this post, we gather together the best webinars of 2020 so far.
01. Alternative methods of income for the creative industry
With so much filming being cancelled or delayed, what can a digital artist do as an alternative method of income? In this webinar, which was hosted by The Foundry (opens in new tab) in May, director and VFX supervisor Hugo Guerra shares his insights on how to earn money outside of the traditional roles in the creative industry.
He’s joined by The Foundry’s Jen Goldfinch and Juan Salazar to discuss how to harness the power of Kickstarter, Patreon, YouTube, Twitch and stock websites to supplement or replace your normal way of getting paid. They also talk about how this is a perfect time to focus on learning, developing skills or finish your long-standing personal project.
Meanwhile, if you just want to watch Hugo's 14-minute keynote (14 minutes), you can watch this edited version of the webinar (opens in new tab) instead.
02. Are global brands a thing of the past?
Last month, global branding agency Marks (opens in new tab) launched Marks Talks, a free regular webinar series features branding, design and marketing expert guests. The first session centres around a very topical question: ‘Global brands vs local brands: is globalisation a thing of the past?’.
Presenter Christian Cook is joined by guest experts Jos Harrison, global design strategy director at RB (opens in new tab), and Gauthier Boche, VP strategy and innovation Europe at Marks to explore the issue. Spoiler alert: they don’t come to a clear yes/no conclusion. But they do explore the tension between the flexibility and speed to market of challenger brands versus the stability and security of established brands, as well as what each can learn from each other, in an insightful and thoughtful way.
03. How creativity drives advertising effectiveness
There’s nothing worse than a webinar, or a podcast for that matter, where the people discussing the topic know little more than you. That’s why for this webinar held in June, media and marketing consultancy Ebiquity (opens in new tab) did some proper research first, putting together a paper (opens in new tab) that explored how Covid-19 has affected the quality and effectiveness of advertising worldwide.
In this webinar introduced by Christian Polman, Ebiquity’s Mike Campbell and Richard Woodward present the report's main findings, arguing that Covid-19 has caused a crisis of creativity that's led marketers to favour short-term tactics over longer term brand building. They go on to discuss how creativity can be accurately leveraged to create long-term benefit for brands, and how brands can maximise their effectiveness in the months ahead, even if recession hits.
04. Nailing your colours to the ecommerce mast
During lockdown, even the most nervous technophobe has developed the habit of buying online, and that’s likely to continue, even once everyone is confident about returning to stores. So now’s a great time to start thinking about what makes for successful ecommerce design.
In this webinar hosted by Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (opens in new tab) in April, host Emer Farran talks to Jeff Sheridan of Matrix Internet (opens in new tab), who’s been involved in hundreds of ecommerce projects and carries out digital audits for dozens of online retailers every year. Topics discussed include frictionless buying, truly understanding an audience, crafting a compelling story for your visitors, and developing a truly omnichannel approach.
05. VFX leaders on adapting to lockdown, looking to next stage
Right now, the entertainment industry is hoping for a safe return to production in at least some places by late summer, to keep workflow at capacity. But it’s certainly not going to be a smooth and easy ride.
In this webinar, which hosted by Screen International’s Jeremy Kay at the end of May, Framestore (opens in new tab)’s Fiona Walkinshaw, Weta Digital (opens in new tab)’s David Conley and ILM (opens in new tab)’s Rob Bredow discuss how studios have thought outside the box during lockdown, and reveal some of their plans for the near-future, including continuing work on the Avatar sequels. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the practical difficulties the movie industry continues to face, and the ingenuity and dogged determination of film-makers in overcoming them.
06. Better Words: Building a brand voice
In confusing and ever-changing times, it’s important than ever that your brand has a clear idea of what you want to say, and how you want to say it; what’s known in the business as brand voice. Held back in May, this webinar explores the topic in detail. Mike Reed, Sam Russell and Orla Wood of brand writing team Reed Words (opens in new tab) discuss how to go about designing, refreshing and managing your brand voice, as well as answering attendees’ questions.
07. How to Design Human-Centered AI Applications
How do you design applications that delight a user? That’s the core of the topic addressed last month in this webinar (opens in new tab) hosted by Women Techmakers Amsterdam (opens in new tab) (WTA). And it’s a question that goes to the heart of designing anything using AI. Because no matter how well-trained your model or how sophisticated your algorithm, if a user can’t instantly figure out how your app works, they will abandon it.
In this session Virginia Ceni Silva and other members of the WTA are joined by Bianca Ximenes (opens in new tab), a Brazilian data and product expert who specialises in building responsible smart digital products. Bianca answers the question by outlining a checklist of practical steps you need to take to design successful applications, including how to define user needs, how to collect and evaluate data, the mental models you need to consider, how to gain user trust and how to obtain and control user feedback.