New Adventures in Web Design

March 16th, 2011

The 20th of January is almost two months ago now and yet I’m only just getting around to jotting down my thoughts on Simon Collison’s inaugural New Adventures conference. My excuse is that on the day itself and indeed the month leading up to, and the month following the conference, I had a terrible chest infection that left me quite worn out.

In fact on the day of the conference itself I was struggling to breathe properly and ended up leaving early, missing the final two speakers entirely. This wasn’t a massive issue for me at the time as I’d seen Andy Clarke speak plenty of times before and had seen Brendan Dawes at last year’s Future of Web Design in London. Plenty of other attendees cite Andy and Brendan as the highlights of the day but I came away with my own highlights from a stack of great speakers.

For me, Greg Wood’s talk on Art Direction and Editorial Design on the web was the one that fascinated me the most. Greg had undertaken a small research study to discover how people engaged with his content in the standard blog template format versus an art directed version with graphics and textual treatments.

His presentation was all about his findings and his inspiration. I wish I could link to the slides from his talk but I’ve yet to locate them. If you visit his website you’ll get the general idea though as he art directs all the articles too. I remember Jason Santa-Maria introducing the approach at @media a few years back. If you’ve got the talent and time to put this kind of effort into your articles then it certainly seems to pay off. I’d not seen Greg speak before, I’m not sure he’s done much of it, but he was entertaining and told a good story.

All the other presentations were of a very high standard. I think I took away at least one useful point from each of them. Colly put on great event that felt intimate, friendly and somehow quite unique and set apart from the the more established industry gigs. It has a little of the vibe of the first, single track @media from 2005. The attention to detail was second to none. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to organise an event of such scale and produce a well considered accompanying newspaper to take away.

Travelling up to Nottingham made a nice change from London. I managed to meet a few new people and catch up with some old faces. I just wish I was in better health at the time so I could make the best out of the day. I got the impression that this wasn’t going to be the first and last such event though. Maybe I’ll see you there next year?

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