new adventures in web design

This year's #naconf was amazing again, possibly even better than last year ~ though at the time I remember thinking how difficult it would be to top it. This year, unfortunately, I had a horrid cold which almost stopped me from going. But I couldn't miss what promised to be another amazing day. Though feeling ill meant I missed out on a lot of the pre- and post-conference fun. I'm so glad I decided to attend regardless and the day was again filled with plenty of inspiration from amazing speakers, with the added bonus of Laura being there as well :)

UPDATE: the first videos and slides are going online and I will be updating this post accordingly. As there are a total of 8 speakers - this will of course affect page load, so please excuse the slowness.
Rather than worry about this - I'd like to keep all related material on this single page, as a little piece of memory of a fantastic day. Thanks to the speakers for sharing their slides, and the #naconf team for putting up the videos of the talks. :-)

Simon and Greg, photo by Kitty Crawford

our lovely host Simon Collison with fellow organiser Greg Woodphoto © Kitty Crawford

Reading the lovely #naconf paper - I couldn't quite believe that Simon had decided not to do this again.... were it not for Greg - we might have missed out on another inspiring and wonderful day. Thank you, Greg, for making sure New Adventures 2012 happened!!!

photo © Kitty Crawford

Dan Mall Design-ish: Behind, beneath, and between the comps

Dan Mall was the first speaker of the day and started off with a great talk. Getting everyone up and talking and going onto to talking about his work and design process - Dan discussed invisible deliverables, swapping roles to be a client and learning from this. It was wonderful to hear about the development process of related links with sliders, and see samples of his work.

  1. All clients are created equal but some clients are more equal than others.
  2. Haste. Make waste. More faster.
  3. Encourage "the adjacent possible".
  4. Create empathy.
  5. Enjoy yourself. Spare no expense.

I absolutely loved Dan's talk. He had me worried initially when he started talking about relationships between characters in Starwars while discussing this project, I did get a little lost with the references (not a scifi or Starwars fan). But he soon moved onto other topics and it was a joy to gain insight into the work with such detail.

I particularly liked hearing about the process of the design of his own site - and the role reversal to client. Dan talked of discussions about a new image and logo for his site with Kevin Cornell which was wonderful, even more so as I am also a big fan of Kevin's work.
Just wonderful ~ thank you, Dan :)

naomi atkinson, photo by Maykel Loomans photo © Maykel Loomans

Naomi Atkinson Going beyond

Next up was Naomi Atkinson. I have to admit that I was a little dubious about the topic of her talk, being quoted on the site as a look at "the land of celebrity". But I was hoping that there might be an unexpected angle to this topic. Naomi discussed how 3 celebrities (P. Diddy, Katie Price and Jamie Oliver) had managed their image/brand and kept their name memorable by knowing their target audience. I really hate the celebrity culture which the mainstream media feeds on and so I could not warm to her points at all; her delivery to one corner of the hall alone did not help the matter either. If there were arguments for her points, to me - they were superficial and materialistic, nothing connecting it with design or the spirit of this conference.

Her final point of making money while doing work for the greater good, unfortunately, also felt empty and almost patronising. I don't mean to sound so negative - I'm grateful Naomi took the time to come and give her talk, it just did not resonate with me.

travis schmeisser, photo by Fabian Tempel photo © Fabian Tempel

Travis Schmeisser We Used to Build Forts

After a quick break, Travis Schmeisser asked whether the digital space had lost its edge. He talked about how, not so long ago, we all had fun, hacking together various parts for the sake of enjoyment, for fun. He pointed out how people still think creatively - but not necessarily in our field. Are we taking it all to seriously? Have we lost the fun and joy of it all?

Travis showed samples like MySpace and even Facebook and how people just have fun, run with their ideas and are creative for the sake of discovery. I really like the points he made, very true and I agree - time to enjoy the creative process more, to seek collaboration to gain new starting points and, to quote one of his slides, to "loosen the fuck up".

I loved the points Travis made, thanks, Travis ;) - and my notes are full of doodles to reflect this - and just to remember:

stay creative - keep exploring.

robbie manson, photo by David Roessli photo © David Roessli

Robbie Manson The Mindful Designer

Robbie's talk was a nice follow-on from these ideas - making the point that ideas thought of away from all our tools are often the strongest. He argued that the creative accidents which happen via the functions of our tools are often very telling, worth exploring. Though our drive as designer is the intent for balance, for perfection - experimentation and failures should not be so easily dismissed. Our design process is set in place, rigid and linear to help projects run smooth. Though this can be the case, this method can also break the creative flow.

Robbie spoke of the need for a better process to enable better thinking, like the '6 up sketching' approach which encourages the quick jotting down of ideas in a short period of time, allowing for a free flow of thinking. The more invisible the tool, the better the thinking, the better the process, he emphasised. Robbie believes it is best to share work early in the process - shared and discussed. Design should be informed by our thinking, not our tools.
I really enjoyed this talk, well paced and making some very strong points. Thanks, Robbie ;)

trent walton, photo by Alessio Carone photo © Alessio Carone

Trent Walton Break everything

I've been a fan of Trent's work for quite a while and so I'd been really looking forward to his talk - and he was brilliant. A journey back to his childhood, an exploration of the neighbourhood with his friends and stories of his dad and racing cars being built and broken down. And onto discussing CSS3 and typography for the web.

Trent pointed out how the web would not be evolving and improving were it not for us 'breaking things'. He highlighted how we need to push and break things in order to gain better understanding and to be able to make improvements. I loved seeing some of his work with webfonts and now have plenty of links to follow up (see below). It is reassuring to hear experts discuss their battles with new technologies, hear about their struggles and then see the final results, inspiring. Highlights of Trent's talk were not only all the lovely work with type we saw - but also his message of how we should all appreciate the wonderful web community and actively participate :-) I couldn't agree more. Thank you, Trent :)

cameron koczon, photo by Alessio Carone photo © Alessio Carone

Cameron Koczon The Potential Impact of Design

Next up was Cameron with an excellent whirlwind of a talk - I loved it! His delivery was electric, full of energy and inspiration... and I was glued to his talk—so much that I didn't manage to take many notes at all - hoping his slides and audio/video of his talk will go online so you can see for yourself.
A few of Cameron's points

Luckily, just 2 days before the conference - A List Apart published this article by Cameron titled "An Important Time for Design" which echoes a lot of the points mentioned.

denise jacobs, photo by Alessio Carone and Callum Hopkins photo © Alessio Carone (left) / Callum Hopkins (right)

Denise Jacobs Your Brain on Creativity

After this burst of energy - Denise took us all on a trip through our brain, telling us a wonderful story. She was amazing! Pacing the stage in tune with her story, her narration was enhanced with timely emphasis and sounds, her points - some subtle, some direct - were interwoven gems in a storyline. Thank you, Denise ;)

My notes from her talk are full of doodles and words and I don't think I will be able to do it justice, so here is the write up from the #naconf site instead:

While creativity seems ethereal, mysterious and often capricious, there is a biological side of the creative process that underlies the sense of being animated by the divine. Creativity is not just a state of mind and soul, but is also complex symphony of neurobiology, neurochemistry, and neuroelectricity.

What is happening inside our craniums, amongst the cortex, hemispheres, and neuroglia when we create? How does the science of the creative brain turn concepts of ways to approach things like work, order, serious concentration, focus, and productivity on their ears?
If we better understand the brain on creativity, we can hopefully leverage it's power for increased ideation, innovation, productivity, and flow.

And to highlight a few thoughts which I will want to remember:

frank chimero, photo by Callum Hopkins photo © Callum Hopkins

Frank Chimero It moves

I had read quite a few pieces by Frank and found them very insightful, quite fascinating and so I was really looking forward to this talk. Hearing Frank speak was enlightning, inspiring and just wonderful. What a perfect closing talk to such a great day!

Again, I won't be able to do this brilliant discussion of design justice at all - but the core message Frank delivered was clear: design moves. And we can never stop moving with it.
He highlighted why we as designers care so much - and how good design can be taken very much for granted, becoming invisible (nicely illustrated by the lovely story of the 'tiny pony'). Frank spoke of so many things that I am hoping his slides will go online soon so that you can get a glimpse of his thoughts.

He spoke of how the world is changing, and changing faster all the time - how our work becomes out of date quickly unless we adjust to the speed of this movement. As designers we are problem solvers but our target keeps moving, old solutions become new problems and "when everything moves - the only solution is to dance" (quoted from memory).
Thank you, Frank ;)

All that's left for me to say that I had a brilliant day ~ full of laughs, inspiration and so much more. Though I was entirely done in and exhausted at the end of it because of this horrible cold - I was so glad I was there. I hope Simon and Greg will get all the praise, love and hugs they deserve!

To get a glimpse of the day - check out the Flickr pool or the Instagram shots, read related tweets and see related links on Lanyrd.

The only thing I felt really bad about was not being able (due to cold hitting hard) to see people I'd so looked forward to meeting up with again & those who I only spotted in the crowd and not had the opportunity (and strength left) to talk to, so here's a little wave to you:

And lastly, a nice little video,
filmed on an iPhone by @RellyAB, edited in iMovie by @nicepaul.

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