This past week, a few of my co-workers and I took a trip down to New York City to check out the Future of Web Design conference at the Javits Center. Living a few miles north, and having lots to do the next day, my co-workers and I decided to make it a one day event. We hit the road at 4am, caught a train by 6:15am, and made it to Grand Central by quarter to 8am.
We were pretty early to the Javits center, and the staff hadn’t started registration quite yet. We hung around for a bit, and eventually found ourselves some seats (2nd row goodness). As the conference center began to fill up, we started to notice the sun had taken an offensive to the projection screen, effectively masking the entire display. With some quick thinking, the organizers did the best they could by placing a plasma at the front of the crowd.
While not the best situation, it definitely helped the first few rows. Luckily, the entire conference was being taped, and Carsonified has generously decided to offer the missing visuals via Viddler. After averting this small disaster, the conference was a go.
Joshua Davis really got things going right off the bat. I’ve never seen him speak before, but from what I’ve read, he always puts on a great presentation. His talk was titled “Finding Inspiration” and he spoke for some time about how he finds inspiration for the work he does. He put on display some of his techniques and it was a fantastic way to start the day.
Brian Fling was up next with his presentation “Taking Your Site Mobile”. Brian spoke about how the future of Web design could have a lot to do with the mobile Web. He shed some light on the research he’s done on the medium and explained some effective ways of making your websites mobile.
Ryan talked a lot about the design strategies which have been so successful for 37 Signals. His talk was titled “Web Application Usability” and he offered some really great tips and tricks to raising the bar of UI design for your Web apps.
Illustration has been behind some fantastic website designs as of late. Cindi Li took the time to present “Beautifying the Web with Illustration”, showing the various ways the incorporation of illustration can really enhance your overall site design.
This famous trio based their discussion on “The Future of Web Design”. They spoke about the bubbling trend of design firms focusing more and more effort on their own products. What better way to control an end product than to keep it as your own? Some crowd-offered questions also added value to the talk by incorporating some thoughts on preparatory education for the Web field.
Mr. Snook brought his expertise in the realm of AJAX to the table. His talk, “AJAX & Design” outlined effective use of AJAX to make your Web applications that much more useful and intuitive. He offered some tips and tricks along the way that undoubtedly got some people thinking about a new way to do things.
“CSS3 and What Could Be” was the title of Jina Bolton’s talk. She took the time to outline some of the more exciting features of CSS3, including working with advanced layout, multiple background images, and more. She took the time to give some insight on how using these new offerings can really help both with issues such as bandwidth, as well as a way to create more semantic markup.
Elliot Jay Stocks
Elliot Jay Stocks had a really great presentation entitled “Destroying The Web 2.0 Look”. He provided the crowd with an itemized list of elements to get “the look” and definitively proclaimed
“You’re only allowed to use a logo reflection if your company name has the word ‘reflect’ in it”. Fantastic.
Mathew Patterson reminded everyone that HTML email is never going anywhere. His presentation, “Good Practices in Newsletter/Email Design”, revolved around the fact that HTML email is practically unavoidable, but we should really take the time and effort to make the best of it.
I really enjoyed David Martin’s presentation, mostly because he shares many of my thoughts when it comes to Flash. His talk was titled “Flashturbation”, and he spoke of the problem with Flash when it comes to animating everything in sight. I truly believe that Flash has its place on the Web, and designers/developers are making better use of it as time goes on. David put some of his companys award winning sites on the chopping block due to blatant Flashturbation, and explained that Flash can be used in a much more effective manner.
Jeffrey spoke about the effect site designs can have when it comes to community involvement in his talk titled “Community-Centered Design”. He explained that when you’re working on aspects of a heavily trafficked community website, sometimes your changes don’t go over well. Sometimes design can become truly community-based due to the feedback you receive.
Brand design was the topic of conversation in Lea Alcantara’s “Building a Brand through Design”. She covered topics as broad as overall brand design process, but also went into applicable details regarding brand delivery.
Keith Robinson & Ryan Sims
To finish things off, Keith Robinson & Ryan Sims walked the crowd through their process when it came to their redesign of the very popular IMDb.com. It was really great to see both the similarities and differences of process comparing theirs to what I’m more familiar with. I find it interesting when you’re provided that ‘fly on the wall’ perspective.
The Future of Web Design 2007 was the first ‘official’ Web conference I’ve had the ability to attend, but I really enjoyed it quite a bit. New York City in and of itself is an exciting place to be, but pairing that with the ability to listen to such intelligent people speak all day is really icing on the cake.
My only disappointment was my inability to meet a few more people face to face. I know that there were a number of people in attendance that I would have really liked to meet, but squeezing everything into a single day interfered quite a bit. I’m really glad I was able to make it to FOWD, and I hope it was the first of many conferences I’ll be able to attend.