Future of Web Design over with for another year then and I have to say my first conference was an overwhelming success. Started well, with meeting @boagworld, @stanton, @ryanhavoc, @mikestickler, @anna_debenham, @nofont, @BHardcastle and @dkirk (twitter usernames of course) in the Prince of Teck at Earl’s Court, unfortunately had to bail to finish the current Virgin Insider build, but alas it was still fun. Except the getting stick for not having an iPhone, however after the next couple of days I definitely want one. I just upgraded on Orange. Bugger.

Molly Holzschlag on stage at FOWD 2009 - Flickr image from user: vectorfunk<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Molly Holzschlag on stage at FOWD 2009 - Flickr image from user: vectorfunk</figcaption></figure>

The conference day was in the rather big Kensington Town Hall, which was nice, having met up with Natalie from BluHalo and the @fhoke lads the sessions got underway.

After Ryan Carson introduced the day and told us what we needed to know, there was an impromtu talk from Danny Somekh which looked at applying the agile development model to web sites. Quite interesting, if a little under prepared due to being such a late addition.

Next Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners (http://www.coudal.com/) talked about how the creative process seems to focus on taking a constant and applying variables to it, using the Booking Bands game as an example. Booking Bands says combine a band and a book to make something amusing. I’ve come up with “Oliver’s Twisted Sister” and “The Bloodhounds of the Baskervilles gang”. To do this he emphasised most would take either a band and cycle through the books you know, or vice versa. He also highlighted a short attention span isn’t necessarily a bad thing for creativity.

Next was Meagan Fisher from SimpleBits on the Mobile Web. Not really anything new, but it was interesting and good to know the leaders in web geekery are promoting and fighting for the same things as I am.

Brett Welch (of www.goodbarry.com was good) was next and was really fun. He talked about the business side of our work – the following points sticking with me:

  • Talk about the clients business
  • Design is a commodity
  • Are you worth it?
  • Try to join the dots not build from new
  • Sell your expertise not a product

He had a way to remember the process, involving Busta Rhymes. Business, Understand, Strategy, Targets, Actions. The end result should be effective and repeat business.

Mark Boulton (http://www.markboulton.co.uk/) was next talking about typography for the web. He made some good points, being a very intelligent bloke:

  • Typography can be frustrating on the web
  • Design bridges author and reader concept ideas
  • Use smart defaults and push people with the ability to influence design to make correct decisions
  • Make people think they are being creative
  • Use a typography cascade
  • Check the Vista defaults for more fonts to use
  • sIFR is a pain in the arse (my personal favourite)

The next speaker was slightly different as he had a companion to help him. Who is a guide dog. Because Robin Christopherson is completely blind.

Robin (of http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/) demonstrated the difficulties that blind and users with other disabilities find whilst using the internet. He pointe4d out that a lot of disabled users use a mobile version of a site as it is simpler, that captcha is not viable, gave some tips on making things easier for your users and was overall very impressive. This is something I will take back to the office and push for better accessibility in our sites.

Mike Kus speaking - Flickr Image by vectorfunk<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Mike Kus speaking - Flickr Image by vectorfunk</figcaption></figure>

Mike Kus from Carsonified was up next talking about design. His slides are up at http://www.slideshare.net/mikekus/graphic-design-the-forgotten-web-standard A good talk with a good video at the end. Not really my bag though – design and stretching design legs. One good point he made was to to harness the power of the copy you are designing for and think about the copy to inspire rather than dictate.

Sabrina Dent then spoke about the Stalinist web design model. Something that I always have trouble with. Its fine to say no all the time – but I struggle when it comes down to saying the words! Sabrina backed this up with the reasons why and so it might help me say no more often. Sabrina’s blog is at http://www.sabrinadent.com/

Finally Molly Holzschlag (www.molly.com) ran through the future of web standards, covering HTML5, XHTML, Compat mode in IE8, SVG, Canvas, RDFa, Microformats and a lot more besides. Really good and perfect for what I went to FOWD for.

I will cover the workshop content in another blog – after I have conveyed the message I took away to all the good folks at GyroHSR, hopefully changing something for the better too.