Digital Lab.in Conference: award-winning agencies came to Croatia

Author Jelena Rebrnjak
Category Design
Date Oct 04, 2018
5 min read

Last week we attended the Digital Lab.in conference that took place in Labin, Croatia. It turned out to be a great team building.

We came back inspired and full of fresh perspectives. This is the first year for Digital Lab.in organizers, and we can only say – great job guys!

Lectures, workshops, both or none

The conference had two parts – workshops and lectures. Since we were a bit short on time, we skipped the workshops, but the great thing is that we didn’t skip the lectures.

The schedule was pretty tight, so we attended 9 presentations from 9:30 to 18:00. The lecturers were:

  1. Daan Klaver (Build in Amsterdam)
  2. Henry Daubrez (Dogstudio)
  3. Vitaly Friedman (Smashing magazine)
  4. Krešimir Mudrovčić (Five)
  5. Emanuel Miličević (Infinum)
  6. Mario Šestak (Bornfight)
  7. Vlatko Vlahek (Prototyp)
  8. Ivan Lučin (Productive)
  9. Marko Plovanić (Infosit)

First Runners and Mind Blowers

Now that we had some time to digest everything we heard, it’s a bit easier to make a list of all the highlights.

We started the day with Daan Klaver from Build in Amsterdam. He set a really high standard for the other guys (just saying what everyone was thinking 🙂 ) with the presentation “12 principles to create great e-commerce”.

This was so much more than just tips & tricks, it was pure wisdom on how to set your mind to make the best job you can. Out of respect for you readers, I won’t kill you with transcripts (there’s a link to a video with all the presentations at the end of the article), but I will however highlight a few points that got me excited:

  1. Your skills are your authority in the team, not your titles
  2. It is important to share the vision with your clients, they should always be partners
  3. Take a nap
  4. Don’t pitch projects

I intentionally won’t give away any “whys”, just to get you to watch the presentation. As I said, the link is at the end of this post. You will love it!

We also saw some good shit – they think, design and develop brands, as well as digital products and experiences that look good, work great and feel amazing. Henry Daubrez from Dogstudio showed us how to think and act if designing wonderful digital experiences is our goal.

Modify, duplicate, modify, duplicate… and design something to be the next blockbuster. Why? Watch the video. 🙂

Vitaly Friedman really made my day. I liked that he is a guy with unlimited amount of great examples to great points. I did find myself thinking “I’m not doing this quirky UI enough, this is great”. He said, do your design “just a little bit off” and “take the most boring element on the page and make it great”. Those were such great points, I had to share them with you.

The thing that perfectly sums up this presentation is in one of the notes I wrote down while Vitaly was on the stage – “he really put a smile on every face in the room”. 🙂

Bornfight takes center stage

Bornfight’s entire design and frontend teams, as well as Degordian’s creative team came to support our head of design – Mario Šestak.

“Bringing ideas to life” – I was so happy he decided to hold this presentation. As a part of his team, I now truly understand how important it is to know what we (designers, developers, creators) have to do when it comes to creating digital experiences. And what our role as starting points in that process is.

It’s all about learning to improve – about starting from ourselves and asking “what could I do better”.

In addition to the personal effort we put into building our professional careers, what really makes my day is a statistical coincidence (I call this “a life freebie”) that, out of all the companies, we ended up in the same one, and that I get to learn from him every day.

What else did we get to see?

This conference covered three key areas:

  1. App development
  2. Front-end
  3. Design

There were a couple of product and app-oriented presentations. Ivan Lučin gave us his insights on building SaaS products, while Krešimir Mudrovčić gave us a project manager’s perspective on validating information needed to run a good app project.

Emanuel Miličević from Infinum had some excellent ideas about personalizing interactions to user needs, as well as focusing on people with limited senses and their everyday needs.

Vlatko Vlahek had a 40 minute lecture about service workers. Since I’m a specialized digital designer, I had to check my intuition with our front-end crew (shout out), and they confirmed to me that Vlatko really sold us on the idea of service workers. 🙂

Marko Plovanić finished the presentation part of the conference with a great presentation about design thinking principles in web design and UX. And you really can’t repeat those enough!

When all this great presentations ended, we had one panel discussion with Marko Mišulić (CEO Rentlio), Antonio Perić (CEO Locastic), Krešimir Končić (CEO Neurolab) and Tomislav Grubišić (CEO Bornfight). The topic of the panel was “What Tech CEOs Want From Croatia’s Best Tech Talent”. This was a really good mix of CEOs because of their company backgrounds. Products, agencies, small companies and big ones – we had all of it in one place. They all talked about attracting new people, and what they’re looking for in potential employees. They were also aware that being a good mentor to your mentee is the most valuable long term investment.

It was clear that everyone has quite similar business challenges, regardless of the company size, field of business orientation. You can create products or run an agency, but you still have people working for you – you want to develop them to be top professionals and you want to keep them in your companies.

I was happy to see that culture and mentorship were the main focus, and I felt good seeing that people nowadays realize these are the most valuable starting points needed to create good companies.

Beside that, I’m always excited when others get the chance to listen to our CEO Tompa, and suck in the wisdom.

As I mentioned earlier, the crew from Digital Lab.in filmed the conference and you can watch every presentation.

I hope that we will get to go to this types of conferences even more often, as we should all hang out more and share our professional points of view. In the meanwhile, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to stay in touch.