The future of web design?
The Future of Web Design Conference yesterday attempted to answer the question 'What is the future of web design'? I am not sure that the event produced a definitive answer but it certainly covered a wide range of web design activities that are happening now.
In fact, at the end of the day, I was left feeling that 'web design' is in itself an inaccurate description these days. That's mainly because the conference included presentations on such diverse topics as web applications, online branding and identity, Flash, applications for the desktop, XHTML/CSS prototyping, and identifying creative ideas. These all impact on 'web design' in one way or another but the term as used was a bit misleading.
Instead of covering every single presentation, I have picked out two that I enjoyed the most. Firstly, Andy Clarke talked about 'Designing for Developers' where he described his process for designing ReallyWorried.com. This was a great presentation with humor, soundtrack music from Billy Bragg, a version of TopGear's 'cool wall' (instead of cars, think websites) and a description of the XHTML/CSS prototyping process that was used. It was entertaining!
The main theme was that website design is better prototyped with a variety of CSS-based layouts instead of Photoshop comps. There are advantage to this approach because it is much more representative of fluid-based designs, the XHTML structure is there from the start, and time is not spent on unused/rejected Photoshop graphic imagery. I use a similar process myself, perhaps for different reasons - it suits me better, so I left the room afterwards with a warm fuzzy feeling (or was that the Cornish pasty I had for lunch?).
Secondly, Jeff Croft and Florian Schmitt debated 'Flash vs Standards'. This was promoted as a 'fight' but, in actual fact, the two protagonists were quite respectful of their opponent's specialism. The overall conclusion was that Flash is better for some 'interactive, entertainment' websites (games, movies) but web standards (read, conventional XHTML) are better for other websites (news, portals). Fair enough.
Outside the main conference room, Adobe and Microsoft had demo stands. No surprises that the Adobe Creative Suite 3 demo was much more popular than the MS stand. These demos use very fast PCs/Macs and they always leave me feeling that I have the slowest PC in the world. Oh well.
Overall, I enjoyed most of the day. It was more wide-ranging than I anticipated. A couple of presentations veered into self-promo territory and I would have liked more on typography (my fault for not attending the pre-conference workshops) and more Q and A. Otherwise, pretty good.