How the Web App Thingy Got Its New Name

Jared Spool

December 10th, 2009

Producing a brand new event is exciting. Lots to think about: the speakers, the topics, and the locations. Yet what immediately separates one conference from another is its name.

We’ve launched a ton of events in the 21 years we’ve been around. But this time, we were a little stuck for the name. So we put out the call and asked you to help us come up with a name. The only information we provided was that it was a 2 day event, held in 4 cities, and the content will cover best practices for designing web-based applications with top-caliber speakers.

We figured we’d get 30 or 40 ideas to choose from. Boy were we surprised. The entries started pouring in. All in all, we received more than 650 great ideas.

Some were obvious names: Web App Series, Web App Symposium, Web Apps 2010, and Web App Conference.

Some folks went the acronym route: Another Web App Road Extravaganza (AWARE), Browser-Based Application Development (B-BAD), and Interactive Web App National Tour (iWANT).

-palooza was a popular suffix. We received more than 25 submissions, including the likes of Spoolapalooza and Web Appalooza.

And the next most frequent submission we saw had 2×4 (as in two days, four cities) in the name such as Web App 2×4 and UIE2x4.

Some we thought were really amusing: Better than TED, The Justice League of Web Apps (we guess attendees are required to state their super powers), Swiss Army Knife Web Apps and How To Fold All Your Pieces Neatly Into Place, and UIE Web Apps: The Summit Is Not A Mirage.

So how do you choose the right name, one that’ll be the forefront of the event’s brand? To make our decision, we turned to the same techniques we use for prioritizing large amounts of user data.

The Process

As with any good process, we first needed to figure out how we’d know if we did a good job. We needed success criteria. So we went about identifying the qualities of a good UIE event name.

We know that it had to work well with UIE in it. Also, since this event will focus on web-based applications, it had to communicate that somehow.

As we looked at names we sorta liked and ones we didn’t like as much, we started talking about what made them different from each other. That gave us some perspectives: we wanted the name to be remarkable, but not too cute. It needed to be easy for someone to sell to their boss, since many folks will need to ask to come. Because we’ll be in four cities, we wanted that to come through, versus an event that is only held once.

(Coming up with attributes like this is the same way we figure out what makes one study participant different from another, when we’re creating personas. We make playing cards for each participant, pull out two cards, and ask “What’s different between them?” and “What’s the same?”)

We ended up with a list of 15 attributes. But it would be impossible to find a name that matched all of those. So we needed a way to figure out which attributes were most important.

We used another technique from our client work: we gave each attribute a weight. Every person on the team assigned a number from 1 to 5, where 5 is a must-have quality and 1 is a nice-to-have.

To come up with a group consensus, we used a two-step voting process. First, everyone says their number. Then we discussed any differences. (Why did Brian give that one a 2? Why did I give the same thing a 4?) Finally, everyone voted again (because the discussion changes people’s minds) and we chose the mode average. (Some people use median average, but that creates crazy precision that I don’t think is necessary.)

By looking at the final scores, it was clear what criteria our winning name needed to meet. We poured through the giant pile of submissions and one name jumped out.

The New Name of the Web App Thingy

Are you ready? Here it is: The UIE Web App Masters Tour.

It fit all our top criteria and we think it accurately describes how great the two-day, four-city tour of web app experts will be.

The Winners of the Contest

Six submissions were all very close to this name but hence, we can only have one winner. Congratulations to Ilona Posner for submitting the winning name. The other 5 people will receive runner-up prizes of proceedings discs from UI14 and the 2009 Web App Summit.

We also decided to give out the 2009 Web App Summit proceedings to a few creative entries:

  • Wicked Web (App) Wizards Conference – Bryn Dews
  • Justice League of Web Apps – Josh DiMauro
  • Spool’s Web App Circus of Excellence – Caroline Sober

Finally, as promised, we drew three email address at random: Tracie Scott, Mark Malamud, and Martha Roden.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on The UIE Web App Masters Tour.

2 Responses to “How the Web App Thingy Got Its New Name”

  1. Mohammed Mudassir Azeemi Says:

    Who are the other five runner-up that will receive the proceedings disc?

    Am I am in to this list?

  2. C. S. Williams Says:

    Interesting name. Did it occur to you that it might have connotations of being for men only? Or is there a corresponding Web App Mistresses tour? Oh, wait, that might be interpreted wrongly too.

    Bit of a shame that with all the gender-neutral possibilities out there, you had to plump for this one.

    Just sayin’.

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