Last Thursday, I attended New Adventures in Web Design, a new web design conference taking place in Nottingham organised by Simon Collison. I was fortunate enough to win my ticket back in October whilst taking part in the Creative Cup (check my post about that here), and so on Thursday morning I set off towards Nottingham.
Now getting to Nottingham from Manchester isn't the most straight forward of journeys, especially via public transport and the morning after moving out of my flat. Nevertheless I made onto the first of four of trains I would be taking that day, at 5.50am changing in Sheffield. Below are a couple of my early morning snaps.
I'd not been to a conference like this before, and after heading down on my own it was a welcome relief to see quite a few familer faces throughout the day. Now onto the talks. I'm only going to give a brief summary as other people have already summed up the talks very well, and probably much better than me. I thoroughly recommend reading Jake Smith's review or Bluegg Creative's review.
As a designer who works on both online and offline projects I was pleased when most of the talks dicussed a much broader level of design and its principals than I had anticipated, there was also very little technical talk, which also suited me down to the ground.
The day got underway to an interesting start with Dan Rubin and Mark Boulton both questioning the evolution of design and its terminology, whilst asking the wider design community to seek to amend them and "create a new canon". The main theme I took away from this is that on the web there "are no pages and there are no edges". Digital is a new and evolving industry and we should question our process until the best practice can be established.
I really enjoyed the talk given next by Elliot Jay Stocks, again it crossed over from digital to print and back again. He talked about the benefits of varying disciplines (something which I believe very strongly about), even if its only to make you realise by switching how much you prefer the thing you spend most of your time doing. He then went onto talk about the pitfalls of using design cliches and trends, as well as the necessity of focusing on the tiny details when using things like drop shadows, highlights, bevels if you must go for that whole web 2.0 aesthetic.
For me the talks which focused on personal work I found to less inspiring then the those which covered broader subjects. Although they all covered interesting points, I found harder to engage with as it was just confirming (for me) the process of desiging I go through every day on projects and I didn't feel like I learning unlike in the talks of the morning. Saying that, there wasn't a talk all day I didn't take something away from.
Towards the end of the day my early start was slowly but surely catching up with me, but the final two talks from Andy Clarke and Brendan Dawes certainly did enough to keep my attention going strong right until the end of the day. Both are strong and confident speakers who took interesting angles on design. Andy Clarke spoke about westerns and comic books, relating the production, direction and illustration techniques of the formats to the rhymn and art direction of good website design.
Whilst Brendan Dawes focussed on the beauty of product design (again a subject I feel close to after studying it whilst at university), and making things - design shouldn't be constrained, its about questioning things and learning quite often through play. I liked how this linked back to the points in the morning about the redfinition and questioning what we do.
After a great day of talks (and once I'd recovered from a serious numb bum) I managed to hang around for a few hours and grab a few beers before heading back on the last train(s) back to Manchester. Unfortunately due to the poor transport links between Manchester and Nottingham I couldn't stay on and drink into the night, next time I'll book a hotel room and take the next day off work.
As far as I m concerned it was a great day, where the little details made all the difference, even if it was a particularly long one getting home 20 hours after I intially left in the early hours of the morning before. The name card/shedule lanyards were nicely designed, as were all the other little bits in the goodie bags such as the bookmark, pin badge as well as the New Adventures paper which is a great read, which you should all buy by the way.
Below are a few snaps from my iPhone 3GS, hence the poor quality.