Pixel Up! 2016

Thoughts on Africa’s first UX and Design conference held on September 12-14, 2016 at the Turbine Hall in NewTown Johannesburg, South Africa

Lets build it better!

That was very much what I came away with from Pixel Up! 2016.

Pixel Up! is a conference about inspiration and learning about user experience and user interface design; and was held on September 12-14, 2016 at the Turbine Hall in NewTown Johannesburg, South Africa

Now usually at Design and UX conferences there are a number of talks on how to do things and tooling and quite a bit of ego stroking and cat videos, but this conference was different!

All the talks were singing from the same hymn sheet. They were all very much focussed on WHY we need to build things better, and HOW to sell the value of design and get buy in from your clients, stakeholders, and your team members. For me the most challenging and inspirational aspects of the talk focussed on DESIGN THINKING.

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” —Tim Brown, president and CEO, IDEO

It definitely challenged a few processes we currently use here @catsandshepherd but more importantly echoed and re-affirmed our approach and principals. Hearing some of the top professionals in the industry, working at some of the biggest digital organisations [Facebook, Youtube, DropBox and Salesforce] talk through their approach and processes and seeing parallels in how we work here every day is extremely humbling and re-enforced our mantra: “THINKING DIFFERENT”



All in all, I thought the conference was as good as any I have been to in the UK and Europe, with fantastic speakers and we will definitely be going next year if @letspixelup and the team decide to put on another Pixel Up!

Here are some of my favourite tweets from day one

Here are some from day two

And finally, the AMAZING sketch notes of the conference talks by @DylanJones

We hack, therefore we are.

It’s a hack, but it’s not what you would think.

We are holding our first hackathon @ Cats & Shepherd, which will be the first of many because we see it as a way to develop our local talent, explore what’s possible in code and most importantly, have fun.

Oh and eat pizza.

And, in 24 hours, deliver something that could have a real world impact.

For those who don’t know: “A hackathon, also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest, is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.”

The hack will last for 24 hours at our offices in Umhlanga and is scheduled to start on Friday the 26th of August at 6pm.

We will be running two hacks with two very different end products; the first, suited to pure design and development and the second, which is heavily skewed to data science and the principle of putting users in charge of their data.

Prizes up for grabs are R20 000 in Amazon/ Azure credits or an internship with ourselves for three months to flesh out what you have built.

This will be a closed hackathon, so click HERE to apply and we will be in touch.

Will you be changing the world with us?

To whet your appetite, below is the agenda for the hack. We are getting some senior developers in to be on call to mentor and provide drop in workshops throughout the hack. Plus, there will be Steers … and beer.

  • Fri 26th 6pm-7pm : Happy Hour & hello
  • 7pm-7:30pm : Intros & Welcome
  • 7:30pm-8:00pm : Sponsors Talks Stream-POPIfields ( AWS & Hodari)
  • 7:30pm-8:00pm : Brief Stream-POPIfields
  • 8:00pm-8:30pm : Brief Stream-Incite
  • 8:00pm-8:30pm : Sponsors Talks Stream-Incite ( AWS & Eversheds )
  • 8:30pm-9:00pm : Hack Starts: teams, ideas, collab, design
  • 9:00pm-11:30pm : Hack
  • 10:00pm-10:30pm : Workshop ##1 – Node, AWS
  • 10:30pm-11:00pm : Workshop ##2 – Node, AWS
  • 11:30pm-12:00am : Midnight snacks
  • Sat 27th 12:00am-8:00am : Hack
  • 7:00am-7:30pm : Breakfast
  • 8:30pm-12:00pm : Hack
  • 12:00pm-12:30pm : Lunch
  • 12:30pm-2:00pm : Hack
  • 2pm-4pm : Hack Presentations
  • 4pm-4:30pm : Judging & Awards
  • 4:30pm-5pm : Thanks
  • 5pm-6pm : Happy Hour & farewell

Here is that link once again.

Looking forward to keeping you up all night!

If you want to sponsor this with us, drop me a line mark at catsandshepherd dot com

A “Master Class” in marketing with Eversheds KZN & Cats & Shepherd

Eversheds KZN, a full service legal firm teamed up with local digital marketing consultancy, Cats & Shepherd, (us) for a Master Class in Marketing.

The event, held at Hodari Offices in Umhlanga, opened with a presentation from Eversheds KZN regarding POPI, or the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), that is currently in limbo in government, but promises to have far reaching consequences for how companies treat their customers, how they market to them, and most importantly how they manage their communications with those customers.

The presentation was given by Eversheds KZN POPI expert, Lara Wills, who explained the current situation with POPI in government, and gave clear examples for the gathered guests on how to integrate POPI compliance into their marketing strategies going forward.

Key points in the presentation were the potential risks companies face in not being POPI compliant such as

  • Civil action
  • Reputational risk
  • Administrative fines




Cats & Shepherd, presented by founder Mark Smith was up next, and Mark outlined the value proposition of Cats & Shepherd.

We exist to build value for our clients”

As marketers, we are always being asked to do more with less, to get more customer data and to protect that data. The sad reality is that marketing is very often last in the development queue. To that point we are developing three products which talk to exactly that.”

The first product, “Outbreak”, is a plug and play viral loop for agencies, or marketers. Using a simple mechanic, we can extend the reach of any campaign.

Next up “Incite”, which is all concerning customer insights, and Mark showed what was possible to be gathered from an email address and public data.

Lastly, “POPIfields”, which spoke directly to Lara’s point about compliance becoming more important for companies, and this secure storage solution for consumer details would mean any agency or company could become POPI compliant within a day.




Once the marketing talk was done, it was time to get down to the MasterClass, led by Naroon Hafajee of Diageo, who led the guests through the process of making their very own cocktails, the signature Eversheds and the signature Hodari, all using Diageo spirits such as Tanqueray 10 & Ketel 1 Vodka.

Many cocktails, and many laughs later, the Masterclass was over.