Syd Lawrence Who misses playing “Guess Who?”
Syd did a brave thing – trying a fun interactive code game, and I thought it went pretty well even if not quite as well as he’d hoped. Plenty of bravery points for standing up there and doing a good job of keeping things going.
Jeremy Keith – The Long Web
I’ve seen Jeremy speak twice before and each time was a wide ranging and interesting snapshot of a topic, so I was expecting more of what had worked well in the past. This felt different – the same overview and context of a wider web was still there but he talked through the redesign and refactoring of The Session. Nicely relating everyday development of a site to the principle of preservation and the future friendly web.
Jon Hicks – Icon Design Process
Long been fan of Jon Hicks lovely icon work and bought the Icon Handbook. This talk was great for getting the tons of information contained in the book. Not quite so sure it worked quite so well as a talk. I’ve heard Jon on podcasts and would have liked him to digress and talk around the subject a little more, like I’m sure he can. Some of the examples of odd icons he gave, showed a glimpse of how entertaining and informative he can be when going ‘off piste’.
Mark Boulton – The Business of Responsive Design
Mark started his take about with a tail of Mountaineering on the Eiger (and his proposal to his concussed wife!). The point of the story about Andreas Hinterstoißer was left hanging until the end. Mark then talked about his experiences working with CERN to understand their content problems – that of very different audiences for the output from CERN and how to tailor messages for them. He also talked about how working for Al-Jezeera has meant a much deeper understanding of the journalistic process and how stories are constructed has been necessary.
Looking back through my sketchnotes I realise that he did a great job of summarizing points. ‘Nav is hard’ was one that I think lots of people could agree with. He was honest enough to admit mistakes like building a fancy interactive map that no-one visited.
I also liked the ‘rope a dope’ analogy that he used where you let the client hammer away in a relentless way to thrash out the content until it’s in it’s best condition to be used and relayed. The idea that ‘everything is difficult’ right now might not sound like the most inspiration clarion call, but I found it a pretty good reminder not to beat yourself up about not fixing every design and content issue all in one go.
Brendan Dawes – Carefully Everywhere
Brendan’s talk was a nice change of style with him talking very fluidly about the very fluid and exploratory work that he keeps in his ‘cupboard of experiments’ ready to be used in more commercial work. I especially like the quote from Paul Rand that a designers’ job is To symbolise and summarise. A concept that I also liked was the idea of ‘surfacing’ information out of data; the idea of creating poetry around and out of data. His joy in doing this work really came across, and the enthusiasm was infectious.
Ling Valentine – When responsive sites work as well as a chocolate iPhone
For Ling and Eddie’s talks I was stuck in the dark seats and so my notes are sparse. Ling made some interesting points about the important of the big buying decisions that people make on her site, and doubted whether a smartphone could ever be a comfortable place for that kind of transaction. I suspect many in the audience disagreed with that, but you’d have to be pretty grumpy not to like Ling’s presentation and gusto. Which is reflected on the site Lings cars
Eddie Machado Crafting your Toolset
Eddie did an interesting roundup of the the techniques he used to create the handheld site. It was notable not only for a very in depth explanation of the process, but also for his honesty when confessing things that he’d done that he wasn’t entirely happy with. Detailing the compromises in that way made it better for me, and talking about them in front of a huge audience must have been daunting.
Andy Clarke – How to call your client an idiot without getting fired
A late substitute to the speaker line up was Andy Clarke, who delivers great presentations, talked about how Responsive Web Design has changed the landscape of how we communicate with clients, and offered some pointers on how we can do this successfully. All delivered without slides, he outlined some of the pitfalls of getting too fixated on design deliverables during the process to the detriment of the atmosphere of the work.
He advocated a better way of getting feedback – by asking the right questions and getting it in a structured and useful way. Getting out there an selling the work to clients and responding to their work is a crucial part of the endeavour – one which I know I need to be better at.
Design for the medium by using the medium
Jeffrey Zeldman -Ten Commandments of Modern Web Design
Jeffrey Zeldman finished the day, and gave a cracking talk that had lots of examples, anecdotes, ideas and suggestions liberally littered throughout. I think he did a great job of sending everyone away all fired up to do great work, but with some specific links to help. A pretty ideal combination to my mind. Because it was such a great talk it makes sketchnoting it pretty easy, and I’ve a feeling that I’ll be flicking back to my notes pretty regularly over the next few months.
Aside from the speakers there were other entertainments –
An electric guitar rendition of the Welsh national anthem,
Bruce Lawson sang some of his funny web based songs – like a punk, web based, version of Richard Stilgoe. – You don’t get musically based web satire at many conferences. Also there was a ‘letter to the web industry’ from a couple of young kids, An acrobat(which I missed) and big finish of a Male voice choir.
Craig and Amy did a great job with such a mammoth undertaking and I think everyone enjoyed the day, (and probably lots of the night)