2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: QA Best Practices in Today's Digital Agencies

Written by Megan Simpson | January 14, 2014

Jim Spillson leads a panel about digital agencies at SXSW 2014

Thirty-thousand members of the worldwide digital creative community will descend on Austin this March for the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival. The event will feature more than 800 sessions ranging from gaming and arts to science and business. Today’s installment of the Session Spotlight features “QA Best Practices in Today's Digital Agencies,” a panel discussion featuring organizer and speaker/moderator Jim Spillson (@JimSpillson) of AbelsonTaylor in Chicago, Illinois.

SXSW: Please tell us the idea behind your “QA Best Practices in Today's Digital Agencies” session at SXSW Interactive.
Spillson: The idea for the session was based on my original idea to host a quality assurance summit for our industry. Quality Assurance (QA) has quickly become a required discipline in today's digital world. As agencies strive to produce flawless digital content, they're struggling with how to establish QA teams to support process, and also how to stay ahead of the ever-changing landscape of technology. And all too often, QA starts way too late in the process – like at the end. A recent industry-wide roundtable brought together the brightest minds from top agencies around the country to discuss these problems and share ideas. We’ll be sharing our findings at SXSW, and continue to lead the charge in establishing QA best practices.

SXSW: Who should attend your panel?
Spillson: Anyone producing or purchasing digital products should attend this session. Whether they're a digital agency, development shop, or client - if they just work with digital content, they'll want to hear what we have to share. They'll be interested in learning about best practices to counter the largest issues plaguing the industry today. They'll also learn what to expect in regards to digital quality in the future, how to manage projects to reduce risk, and how to educate stakeholders internally as well as externally about what quality assurance means in today's industry.

SXSW: If an attendee is largely unfamiliar with the topic of your panel, will they still be able to follow along?
Spillson: If a registrant understands the difference between Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, has upgraded the OS on their iPad, and understands that websites and emails can look different when viewing on different mobile devices - they'll be able to follow our session. Much of the content is geared towards the process in a digital agency, but applies to anyone working with digital assets. We've turned over a rock and unearthed a mountain of information that every player in the digital space can use to improve their business, processes, and relationships with their clients. And problems in this space will only continue to grow as technology advances. Our goal is to bring this conversation to the forefront of the digital industry, and drive change that will allow future products to come to market faster, cheaper and of unparalleled quality.

SXSW: Let’s take a minute to talk about Twitter. What types of things do you usually tweet about? Who do you enjoy following?
Spillson: I typically tweet about interesting articles or morsels of information related to the digital industry and sometimes just about world news. I'm not the person that tweets a picture of my lunch for people to see. I follow a handful of industry leaders and entities that I feel share valuable insight. I say entities because I follow a couple of TED-related Twitter accounts. I love TED Talks. I also like @richardbranson, @BillGates, and @neiltyson.

SXSW: We now know a little bit about your work, but tell us something about yourself that doesn’t appear in your official bio.
Spillson: I have twin engineering degrees and spent a number of years working construction on the side. I love to build houses.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete day-by-day, hour-by-hour schedule of programming for March in Austin. Register now to attend “QA Best Practices in Today's Digital Agencies” and other programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.