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Future of Web Design London 2012 : Day 1 thoughts

This year Fabric decided to attend the well renowned Future of Web Design (#FOWD) London conference. It’s  a two day event hosted by the magnificent Carsonified where the world’s best web designers, developers and project managers congregate to listen to inspirational seminars and debates where we can all share our thoughts and experiences of, well, the future of web design.

I’ve followed previous FOWD events with great interest so naturally I was delighted to be attending this year. I’ll likely be posting more detailed thoughts on the individual seminars so in this post i’ll give a quick run-down of my findings from day 1.

Each of the two days show two tracks of seminars, so initially I had a little trouble deciding which of the tracks to go for. Thankfully attendees are allowed to chop and change throughout the day and additionally, the hosts film each of the talks which are then shared with attendees along with the presentation slides after the event.

For the third year running FOWD is being held at The Brewery on Chiswell Street, London. It’s quite a magnificent venue which is perfectly set up for playing host to such an event. Upon registration, attendees were greeted with a light breakfast, some coffee to wake us up and a large sponsor room which was a great opportunity to introduce ourselves and also pick up some freebies (thanks for the pens).

To summarise, this is the series of talks which I took part in today:

  • - The UX of HTML5 (Joe Leech
  • - Art Direction Vs The Web (James Fenton – Tribal Group)
  • - Inform to Inspire (Stephanie Troeth)
  • - Web Typography – The Good Bits (Jon Tan)
  • - Responsive Redesign: Utilising the power of HTML5 & CSS3 (Vitaly Friedman – Editor-in-Chief of Smashing Magazine)
  • - Web Dev the Spotify way (Andy Smith – Spotify)
  • - Dr Weblove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Web (Remy Sharp)

A huge number of bases were covered from how HTML5 can help us in the UX of form validation to the way we use fonts and typography on the web. I was particularly interested to hear Stephanie Troeth talk about her creative process.

James Fenton of Tribal Group talked about Art Direction Vs The Web. This is particularly relevant to me, coming from a print background, as he highlighted some of the issues web designers encounter when dealing with brands and guidelines in digital form.

The keynote of the day, entitled “Notes on Design” delivered by the hugely successful designer Brendan Dawes. As a multi-discipline designer, Brendan talked about some of the issues we face as designers, and how we all approach problem-solving in our own quirky ways.

During the lunchtime session, I also took part in a debate hosted by Cat from Carsonified which gathered a small number of attendees to discuss the issues surrounding how design and development isn’t currently being taught in schools. Personally I find it very confusing that the phrase ‘design technology’ in education has a completely different meaning to the type we deal with on a day to day basis. Surely in this day and age, more of the next generation are likely to grow up in some form of digital environment rather than carpentry? The outcome of the discussion being, of course, that in order for action to be taken, we who have some kind of influence need to enforce some kind of voice as part of an ‘inspire-first’ approach. Obviously there is an incredible number of issues surrounding this topic so perhaps it is a topic in itself so i’ll leave it there for now.

So far, then, FOWD is proving to be an incredibly inspiring experience. I feel privileged to be working in such a fast-paced industry that has so much influence on the things around us, not just the digital sector. The term ‘Future of Web Design’ couldn’t be more apt, as even now I have some brilliant ideas for some of the projects that we at Fabric are currently working on.

On that note, i’ll leave you with this quote from Brendan Dawes’ keynote, which particularly struck a cord with my own personal thoughts on tackling the design process:

“It took me a long time to reach the top of the Empire State Building. It was uncomfortable, I wasn’t happy.

But all that was forgotten when I saw the view.”

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