Recapping the Future of Web Design NYC 2008

Arriving at FOWD

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was working my plans to include stops to upcoming conferences. The first of which was the Future of Web Design NYC and the second being the first Sidebar Workshop. While I couldn’t make it to Washington D.C. for Sidebar, I thankfully was able to make the short trip to New York for FOWD.

Unlike last year, I was able to make FOWD 2008 a two day event. While New York isn’t too far from Albany, making the round trip last year was quite a long day. On the day of the workshops, I met up with Colin Devroe and Chris Fehnel to hang out, and snag some awesome Thai for lunch and check out the Apple Store. We made a day of it, snagged a beer or two, and waited for conference day.

Conference day

FOWD had another spectacular lineup this year. The keynotes found a wide range of topics, and the variation was excellent.

Ryan Singer - 37signals

Ryan Singer

Ryan Singer of 37signals again spoke on Web application design. He’s a great presenter, and his keynote “The Future of Web App Interface Design” didn’t disappoint. Ryan has the ability to bring interface design back to reality; reminding you that there’s no need to be clever, just straightforward.

Hillman Curtis - hillmancurtis, inc.

Hillman Curtis

Hillman Curtis took the stage next for “Ten Minutes of Design Inspiration” during which he played one of his films. He has a fantastic talent for filmmaking and I’m glad to have seen him present live and in person.

Dan Mall - Happy Cog

Dan Mall

Presenting “The Experience Layer: Using Flash, JavaScript, and other Technologies to Engage Users” was Dan Mall of Happy Cog Studios. He took the time to explain the real difference between structure, style, behavior, and experience. His keynote was well thought out and better explained the semantics surrounding each layer of separation. I have no doubts that Dan’s presentation made quite a few people reexamine their view of designing with Web standards in mind.

Paul Boag - Headscape Ltd.

Paul Boag

On the topic of client education was Paul Boag of Headscape Ltd. His personality really came through during his keynote and he was more than spot on with his advice. He has thoughtfully made his keynote available in full through the help of Carsonified and Viddler. If you’ve got a spare 35 minutes or so, use it to watch Paul’s keynote, he did a fantastic job and there’s some terribly valuable insight to gain.

Karl Swedburg - Fusionary Media

Karl Swedberg

Karl Swedberg of Fusionary Media was next to take the stage. He took the time to lightly cover the topic of JavaScript libraries. We all love JavaScript libraries, and Karl presented his talk on “How to Take Advantage of jQuery and Other JavaScript Libraries for your Design.”

Mike Kus - Carsonified

Mike Kus

Unfortunately for me, FOWD 2008 was the first time I’ve heard of Mike Kus and the first time I had seen his work. He took the time to hand illustrate each of his slides and his keynote was fantastic. His talk was titled “Whatever Happened to the Art in Design” and I’m very glad to have seen it.

Patrick Haney - Harvard University

Patrick Haney

Patrick Haney, who is not a sausage, took the time to cover “Web Design Fundamentals: Learning from the Past to Better the Future.” Patrick went back to basics with his keynote, reminding us all how important it is to keep design fundamentals in mind throughout every project. Although it was great to see him in person, I unfortunately was unable to speak with him personally. Hopefully that opportunity comes up sooner than later.

Nicholas Felton - Megafone

Nicholas Felton

Nicholas Felton, widely known for Feltron, presented on “Charting Daily Data” which was intriguing to say the least. I’ve always been a fan of his annual reports, and getting an insider view of how the reports progressed over time was fantastic. He also took the time to give an overview of his project, Daytum, a website targeted at enabling people to track their own daily data.

Derek Powazek - Powazek Productions

Derek Powazek

“The Future of Community and Crowd-sourced Design” was the keynote presented by Derek Powazek. Derek is a very personable speaker, and he seems like one of those people you can meet for the first time and feel like you’ve known for years. He cleared up the true meaning of crowd-sourced design and discussed where things appear to be headed.

Nick La - ndesign-studio

Nick La

One of my favorite keynotes was “Finding Inspiration from your Environment” by Nick La of studio and designer of the famous Web Designer Wall. His illustrations are nothing short of breathtaking, and he took the time to divulge his secrets as to finding inspiration. He gave a sneak peak of two upcoming pieces, and made everyone in the room jealous of his pure talent.

Closing Discussion

The final segment of the conference day was a discussion titled “Designers and Developers, Why Can’t we all Just get Along?” which aimed to tackle the up and coming divide between the two professions. The panel consisted of Joe Stump (digg), Liz Danzico (bobulate), Chris Lea (Media Temple), and Ryan Sims (Virb). Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for a few minutes due to travel constraints. If anyone was in attendance and could provide some insight in the comments that would be fantastic, I’m eager to hear how it went.

And that’s that

I had a great time at FOWD this year, Carsonified really knows what they’re doing and they make the experience really great. I can’t thank Colin and Chris enough for putting up with me over the two days; I really appreciate it.