Unlocking the future of digital innovation: Takeaways from SXSW 2024

South by Southwest (SXSW) has long been known as a music and film festival held in Austin, Texas. But over the years, it’s become one of the biggest conferences for digital and techy creatives around the world. In March, members of our UX and digital team headed down to Texas to dive into all things SXSW. Attending the conference gives you access to hundreds of different sessions across over 20 different topics and allows you to join in the fun of what SXSW is known for: movie premieres, music showcases, and comedy shows – keeping the inspiration and creativity going all day and into the night!

There was so much to take in every day, with notable speakers from some of the largest companies in the world, like Samsung, Adobe, Mailchimp, Apple, and so much more. Here are some of our biggest takeaways:

Designing inclusive experiences is becoming more and more important.

The increase in focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in recent years has created a lot of change in the HR and employee engagement world. That wave has also made large organizations (for example, Visa and Uber) realize they need to do better to bring inclusion into their online experiences and products. Designing experiences while thinking about improvements tailored to people such as women, someone with a disability, someone in the LGBTQ+ community, or someone who may be Black or of Asian descent creates better work that benefits everyone.

Accessibility is finally having its moment.

The amount of time people from all walks of life and ability levels spend with screens has grown exponentially. Platforms like Netflix and Vimeo have seen a rise in the need for and use of captions (that are accurate and edited), and that has only exploded with the growth of TikTok. Being able to engage with content with the sound off gives people more opportunities to watch what we create in situations when they normally might not have been able to, such as while riding the bus. Changes like this have even larger benefits that we might not all think of, like members of the deaf community being able to take a more active role in pop culture, enjoying the latest movies and social media trends with their hearing friends.

AI isn’t coming for your job, but those using it will.

It’s no surprise that there were plenty of sessions around AI. And while we all know that AI is here to stay, how to use it in our day-to-day work is still murky for a lot of us. The best advice we heard for how to think about AI was to use it to “superpower your superpowers.” There are platforms like Perplexity that can help with research by finding the newest and most relevant information about a certain topic with sources included so you know how the answer came to be. AI can also aid in the ideation phase to spark ideas more quickly than we could have on our own. The next time you’ve got a thought stuck in your head that you can’t get down on paper, think of asking ChatGPT for other ways you could say it or ask Firefly to create some images to storyboard it out visually.

How we interact with AI is already changing.

Maybe you’ve heard about the new job of a “prompt engineer,” a.k.a people who know how to crack the strange code that is talking to AI generators like ChatGPT and Midjourney to get more desired outcomes. If you were planning a career shift, you might want to hold off, as organizations like Adobe and others are currently figuring out how to make it easier for everyone to jump into the world of AI tools. Uploading images to help generate better images and more natural ways to write a prompt is just the start. Companies like The Rabbit Company are creating physical products like the Rabbit R1 that puts AI into your pocket and can do tasks for you that Siri could only dream of.

We’re coming back to Buffalo inspired by how we can best prepare our clients for what the future has in store for them. If you’re looking for some help in planning it all out let us know.


My favorite talk of the week was from the directors of one of my favorite movies in recent years, Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s available online, so I encourage you to spend an hour with the wackiness that is the Daniels while also learning about how they use storytelling and their passions to feel fulfilled in what they make and how it can help the rest of us.