New Adventures in Web Design
"New Adventures is an affordable, punchy, carefully-curated schedule: ten presentations, two debates and plenty of audience input. Expect ideas and opinion from some of the web's most respected voices. This event will enthuse, excite, ask questions, and seek real outcomes."
Last night I arrived in Nottingham with high expectations of the New Adventures in Web Design conference I came to attend at the Albert Hall. I heard about the event after I started following Simon Collinson on Twitter, inspired by his presentation at the DIBI conference last year and as the organiser of this one, I kept a close eye on its developments. Actually a good number of the speakers at this event spoke at DIBI, and could be considered web development conference "regulars" but in hindsight its very clear why.
Let me just mention that this is a somewhat limited view of the show as unfortunately I had to leave early to get to Ieva's graduation in Latvia tomorrow, but I think I saw enough to make some comments and give my feedback.
The Pre-Conference Event
With the Eskrine bowling event fully filled up before New Year, and the concept of watching a bunch of other people bowl seeming a little bit weird (maybe its just me!) I joined some friends, old and new, at the Second Wednesday event at A***. The first thing I felt was that it was a shame that attendees had to be split across two events. I know that possibly its hard to organise something on the scale of the numbers at the conference and that the events relied on external organisations to the co-ordinating team to manage them, but knowing so many great people to meet were elsewhere didn't work for me. The second point was that a networking event needs to be in an environment that is suitable to networking. The venue was spot on - a spacious area with a good number of tables and chairs to fit around, however the entertainment, while reasonable quality, didn't learn from the issues that DIBI faced in its closing party that it was just too loud.
I had an enjoyable night though and met some great new people, but I'd suggest a slight volume adjustment and and opportunity to meet all the New Adventures people then it would have been ideal.
The Albert Hall in Nottingham is old. Its seemed oddly fitting that a bunch of geeky designers and developers striving for "New Adventures" would find themselves in a gloriously classical old building such as this. There were spare seats around which was actually important as it didn't feel to cramped and even from the back of the level floor where I sat I could clearly see and hear everything. Lunch was adequate and gave a good choice, while fully catering for those with special requirements and a much healthier "lunch in a bag" than the lunchtime choice at other conferences I've attended. All in all I thought the venue was fantastic.
As I mentioned I only got to see half the speakers, and due to a slight teething issue with queuing to get in thanks to the registration not being quite as "streamlined" as it could be, I missed any of the Q&A sessions - one of the most interesting ideas of the conference for me. Despite that I was given an inspirational, informative and educational treat with those I did see and all injected with a great sense of humour.
The first three speakers I had seen before, but all three of them delivered something considerably different to my previous outings. Dan Rubin started following the intro from Simon Collinson talking about the language that we use in our work and that if the web development industry is to gain more respect from its peers and become a matured industry to work in, we need to take more control over the language that we use and ensure that there is consistency throughout. This was an interesting take and not something I'd ever thought about before but very relevant and a great drive to help the community to understand an important step in the evolution of our trade.
Following Dan, was Mark Boulton with his new "Cannon". I've followed Mark closely since hearing him at Drupalcon and through his work with the Drupal site redesign and I'm a big fan of his ideas and the way he puts himself across on the stage. This is a guy who clearly researches, observes and digests in abundance and he comes across as being one of the leading minds in design for the web. This time he spoke about his ideas, maybe his suggestions for the future of web design, with a clear focus on the need for designers to be better prepared for the unlimited number of devices we are and will continue to view web sites and applications on. There was way too much in there to summarise easily but I really enjoyed it, despite the fact that Mark seemed much more nervous than the other times I'd seen him.
Sarah Parmenter also seemed nervous at first, but there was no need to be. Bubbly, interesting and also very well researched, I found her presentation on some of the psychology behind what we do to be inciteful. The most important thing I think at a conference is to come away with plenty to think about and Sarah definitely provided that. Inspirational was her story of a marketing campaign she developed a few years ago where she used her company name "you know who" as the signatory of hundreds of valentines cards across her local area.
Jon Tan and Elliot Jay Stocks followed with interesting talks but unfortunately I then had to leave the conference. I was gutted about this as I missed Veerie Pieters, Greg Wood, the brilliant and entertaining Tim Van Damme and Andy Clarke, and Brendan Dawes. An insane line-up to miss.
So New Adventures is clearly a fantastic conference and despite my short visit it was a really interesting approach to the conference scene which is becoming somewhat tired in other areas. The idea of having an idea sharing conceptual and curated space works really well and I just can't wait to see what next year brings. Highly Recommended.
For more information head to: http://newadventuresconf.com