FOWD 2009

Jquery, using personas to test for accessibility… and watching Microsoft pimping a table – it was an interesting few days at Future of Web Design, a series of presentations and workshops organised by Carsonified.

Jim Coudal (Coudal Partners) kicked things off nicely with an engaging presentational style and distracted me for a bit too long after revealing the band/book name combination game, (‘The Color Deep Purple’, ‘Fear & Loathing in Glasvegas’ sprang to mind).

I was impressed with Meagan Fisher’s presentation about developing for mobile devices but the whole area seems a very grey area; for instance I (unfortunately) have a Samsung Omnia – an awful windows mobile phone featuring a hotch potch mess of an interface which feels like an ill-thought out Iphone wannabe… . When I use Opera on my phone, some sites work ok as full fat incarnations of the site, but some don’t work very well because of the very dodgy touch screen controls… so do you presume mobile phones can handle the full version of a site, or do you develop a mobile version – if so which features do you drop. I’ll also keep my eye on a site Simplebits are currently developing – dribbble. I’m not a graphic designer so I wouldn’t really get much use from it, but it looks cool.

Mark Boulton’s Typography presentation was more relevant to Dave Bowers (Evolutia Design) than me but it was still interesting and delivered by someone passionate about his own subject.

The 2 presentations immediately after lunch left me a bit baffled, one encouraged designers to basically say no to clients more – felt like a waste of half an hour. This was followed by a presentation about interaction design that seemed to fall a little flat – it felt like half an hour of looking at someone’s portfolio.

The next 15 minutes were very bizarre though… Microsoft were pimping the table thing again. You know the one where you touch it and move things around…and um…. yea you know you’ve seen it on Youtube. But this was a presentation with a slight difference.

You know Alan Moore right? Crazy looking guy with wild hair, looks kind of like the guy eating crickets in the pet shop in Hellraiser. Alan Moore is regarded as an incredibly important and intelligent writer. A man who writes articulately and creates thoughtful and provocative titles such as V For Vendetta & Watchmen. He’s so protective of his own writing that he regularly insists that his name is removed from the credits of the films based on his work.

So… what would Alan Moore think if you distilled The Watchmen down into a 15 minute demonstration… of a table? A Microsoft table. Initially I thought they were going to build up to something but they didn’t. They just told the entire Watchmen story in 15 minutes with a combination of dry narration and cut up crudely drawn characters which were moved around on the table.

I haven’t seen The Watchmen. More importantly – I haven’t read The Watchmen. I’ve just had the entire plot of The Watchmen ruined by a silly attempt to make Microsoft appeal to a room full of geeks. Thanks for that.

Molly Holzschlag gave things a welcome lift with her excellent presentation about the future of web standards – thought provoking because I haven’t really looked into CSS 3 yet, I will take a look shortly though.

The workshops the following day were both excellent – Kath Moonan from AbilityNet gave presentations which covered accessibility basics but introduced important ideas about how you should test your site. The group exercise involved analyzing a website from the perspective of a user persona. The persona was a fully fleshed out character, with a name, likes, dislikes. So when looking at the site from the point of view of this character I think it did help to work out which elements of the design could potentially cause issues. The identification of the persona as a real person helped you get inside a user’s head a little more than if you were just asked ‘if you had learning disabilities what problems may you have with this site?’. Interesting and useful.

JavaScript libraries pop up all the time and since it makes perfect sense to reuse your existing code, I was interested to go to Stuart Langridge’s workshop which dealt with basic Jquery & then editing a complicated script written by someone else. Very enjoyable.

All in all I was very very happy with FOWD, very well organised by a good bunch of people, I’d definitely go again.

5 responses to “FOWD 2009”

  1. Ryan CarsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Steve,

    Thanks for the thorough write-up. I’m so glad you enjoyed yourself!


  2. MoonbeetleNo Gravatar says:

    I agree, overall it was nice. Carsonified did a great job organizing this event. Location was just perfect. Regarding the “future” of web design…well…except for the why we all should look into mobile web design, I didn’t spotted much future trends. Workshops were interesting, still waiting for the speaker to send the promised files though.

    I’ll propbably go again next year too.

  3. Steven NashNo Gravatar says:

    No probs Ryan, next year I need to take my camera, there are some very cool pics on flickr.

  4. Steven NashNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Moonbeetle, it’d be good to have another few pints with Dave & Edgar next year.

  5. Dave BowersNo Gravatar says:

    Great write-up, echoing my own sentiments exactly. I was also surprised at how informal the whole affair was, considering the scale. Was great to meet Ryan, Keir and Mike, as well as Elliot Jay Stocks and Mark Boulton at the workshops. Looking forward to next year…

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