A few days ago I attended the New Adventures in Web Design conference 2012 in Nottingham. This was my first conference so I didn’t really know what to expect or what I would get out of the experience. Therefore I’m not going to compare this experience to a previous conference or comment on what they could have done or should not have done as I am not aware of the usual conference status quo. Plus I think the team behind the conference did such a wonderful job and I really cannot fault them on any area.
Instead I’ve decided to write about what I took away from the conference in terms of inspiration and professional knowledge. There were 8 speakers at the conference so I thought that I should write about the main point that I took away from each talk. These are of course my own take away thoughts and not necessarily the focus of each talk – although generally speaking, that is the case.
1. Design-ish: Behind, beneath, and between the comps
Speaker: Dan Mall
To constantly evolve and re-think my design process and my interactions with clients and colleagues. How can I change my process to come to a better solution? How can I create an end product that not only meets the brief but meets the needs the client didn’t even know they (or their audience) had. And this isn’t necessarily to do with the artwork, or the code, or the CMS used; but could be in the Invisible Deliverables – things like grids, design briefs, flow concepts, animation concepts. To tinker with the process and to look beyond the obvious.
2. Going Beyond
Speaker: Naomi Atkinson
Generally as designers we suck at self-promotion and self-branding. We don’t understand the role of the client, and yet get frustrated with clients when they don’t fulfil their role correctly. We forget that good self-branding allows us to mold how the world sees us. By evolving and developing our logo, our tone of voice, our style, our writing, we can change how the world perceives us. This also gives us the power to change the world and do something good and worth while.
3. We Used to Build Forts
Speaker: Travis Schmeisser
Sometimes its good to relax, chill out and remember why we got into design in the first place, to go back to our creative roots. With the endless responsibilities and deadlines of client work and even life, we forget how we used to create for the love of it and because on some level, we needed to. As designers we need to loosen up and let the natural creative process occur. Use personal projects as a chance to experiment and make mistakes, and use this growth in our client work. Re-find our creative identity and create for the sake of creating.
4. The Mindful Designer
Speaker: Robbie Manson
To re-claim your most powerful tool – your brain. To allow a concept or thought to develop away from tools, such as the computer. To become a mature and mindful designer by using mindful thinking – that is, to allow for experimentations and happy accidents, and to let mistakes teach you how to make successes. It is only by experience that we can make informed decisions.
5. Break Everything
Speaker: Trent Walton
To be innovative, we need to break things. This is how we can truly understand how they work and therefore how we can push them to their limits, and of course, how we can make them better. We need to put aside the fear of experimentation and failure because there are lessons to be learnt in failing. And in each failing we come a step closer to success, to true innovation.
6. The Potential Impact of Design
Speaker: Cameron Koczon
Each of us has the ability to have an affect on the world around us, and even the world at large, to have an impact, to change things. That change doesn’t have to be big but we should do it while doing something that we love. Make this year count!
7. Your Brain on Creativity
Speaker: Denise Jacobs
The core of this message was that ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Basically that in order to reach our potential, to be creative, we need to have down-time. Time away from work, from technology, from stress. We need to play, to laugh, to take time to breathe so that we can reset our batteries and get the two sides of our brain to re-sync again. Because it is only when they are working together that we can be creative and can do ourselves justice. It is time to stop over-thinking and time to banish our inner critic and allow ourselves to reach our creative potential.
8. It Moves
Speaker: Frank Chimero
A designer is anyone who wants to make things better, who can find the exceptional and is not distracted by the everyday. Good design is game-changing, even life-changing. When a design is exceptional, when it is so good, we don’t even notice it. Good design takes on a life of its own, it grows and spreads – it moves. Everything in our world moves and changes. And perhaps nowhere more so than in the web design industry where things are constantly changing, where every two years the whole industry has essentially re-invented itself. To be a good designer and to stay a good one, we need to accept, to embrace the ever-changing industry we work in and to move with it.
Want to know more?
Did the conference sound like something you really would have enjoyed and you’re gutted that you missed it? While here’s some useful links to this year’s website where you can read up on the event and even download this year’s newspaper – its only £1 and definitely worth it. Go on, be a sport!
And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for making the event such a success. Such a great first conference experience – I’ll definitely be back!