Quark’s Symposium: A Big Word for Big Value

Quark's SymposiumOn Tuesday, I was in Chicago for Quark’s final “Symposium” of the year. Quark held about a dozen free Symposiums in cities across the U.S., but this was the first one I attended.

And yes, I was impressed. Not only with the amount of useful information they presented to attendees, but also by the turnout (more than 600), and the intensity and attention of the attendees. This group was hungry…

Hungry for facts about QuarkXPress 7. Hungry for support with particular workflow issues they were having. Hungry for contact with other QuarkXPress users. Hungry for ways to justify their decision to stay with QuarkXPress and to upgrade to version 7.

Quark's SymposiumBased on comments from the dozens of people I spoke with, they got what they wanted.

Attendees represented many kinds of users: giant publishers and printers, ad agencies, individual designers, corporate in-house designers, etc.

It seemed to me that Quark was using this event for two-way communication. They sent their highest-level product managers and technology experts, and these people interacted directly with end users, all day long.

And so did I. Quark’s Joe Root introduced me from the main stage as an “expert” and invited attendees to ask me questions.

Quark had provided a table so that Planet Quark could display some signage and collect business cards for an end-of-day giveaway of an iPod Shuffle. (Congratulations to Juan Alberto Castillo, who won Planet Quark’s prize iPod!)

I spent the entire day with visibly relieved and excited QuarkXPress users — which was really rewarding. The most common question I fielded was along the lines of: “What can I say to convince my boss that we need to upgrade?” I had two words: Shared Content.

The second most common was: “Are there any classes or trainers that can help us move from version X to version 7?” I had one word: QuarkAlliance.

Another common question was: “How can QuarkCopyDesk help us streamline our workflow?” That one was easy: I just pointed them to the special area that Quark set up to demonstrate Quark Publishing System 7. (You can use QuarkCopyDesk by itself with QuarkXPress, or with QPS.)

Quark mentioned that version 7 of QuarkCopyDesk would be available “in a month or two” for about $199.

If you haven’t heard of QuarkCopyDesk, you’re not alone. Although it’s been around for more almost 12 years, when I asked the room of 600+ QuarkXPress users about whether they knew what it was, about 75% said no. Then they chased me down to find out how they could use it in their workflows.

Ah, another shining example of Quark’s not-so-stellar marketing efforts from 1995-2005. R.I.P. “Old Quark” — and welcome New Quark.

I hope Quark continues their Symposiums through the next year. There are plenty of other cities full of QuarkXPress users, and there are plenty of users in cities like Chicago who couldn’t make it to the first Symposiums.