I attended the annual Online News Association Conference last week. It was really a fantastic opportunity to connect with other NWME grantees–Hi Jeanne and Sarah!–and other digital journalists.

ONA12 was the first time I was able to showcase near-final versions of Symbolia’s app to other journalists/future of media types. Overall, feedback was really positive. It was really great to see part of our core audience playing with the app. I definitely picked up a few user behaviors that I hadn’t seen with other testers.

For example, app usage instructions shouldn’t take more than 15-20 seconds to skim and grasp. Ours are tight, but could be even tighter. While new iPad users spent more time learning how to use the device and app, those with iPhone-iPad-smart phone experience tended to dive in headfirst, swiping and skimming and tapping on interactive elements at very quick speeds.

I gave a quick demonstration of Symbolia at ONA’s Midway and talked about our intended audience, our business model, and overall editorial strategy. I’ll share a version of the presentation on this blog later on.

I also had the opportunity to speak about integrating comics and journalism on a panel with some extraordinarily talented creators: Susie Cagle, Wendy MacNaughton, and Dan Archer. We got some great questions about the utilities, practicalities, and overall FUN of comics journalism. I put together the following Storify to round up the tweets, live-sketches, and photos from the session itself. Video from the session should be available soon.

Now that I’m back from ONA12, my focus is turning to our final preparations for launch–promotions, outreach, etc. Things are about to get really really real, and I’m so excited.