New Adventures in Web Design Conference 2013 – Part Two

My previous blog was the beginning of a two part blog on my recent travels to the New Adventures in Web Design Conference in Nottingham. As expected, the speakers were fantastic and I felt that it was worth sharing their wise words with all those that were not fortunate enough to be there.

Jon Tan: Billboards and Novels


I first had the luxury of listening to Jon back in 2011, my first NAConf, so I was especially excited to see him return and spread his enthusiasm once again. This time Jon talked about Impact vs. Immersion, describing impact like a billboard – creating an interruption, an impact, a disturbance; whereas immersion is like a story, requiring emotion and depth. As the web is all about text and reading, we must allow immersion by getting the details right and creating emotional signposts that give a sense of feeling, using fonts to set the tone of the text. He talked about creating emotion using gestures and made reference to the Disney Pixar film ‘Wall-E’, pointing out how setting gestures can paint pictures! Using position, density, space, size, style and case to set the tone, we can create emotion and immersion – “Don’t think, feel!”

We should then use contrast to influence scan paths and cause careful, deliberate interruptions. Jon told us how good typography induces a good mood, so even if people are not aware of the typeface they’re looking at, they are still emotionally affected by it, stating that well set text is not actually faster to read – people just perceive to read it faster than badly set text.

Details in typefaces are not to be seen, but to be felt” – Erik Spiekermann.

Seb Lee-Delisle: New Adventures in… Code!


I think from the entire day, Seb’s talk was actually my favourite. He was hilarious and with the ‘sleepy spot’ straight after lunch, he turned it all around, filling the room with smiles and laughter. He says to “Hybridify yourself” and discover new stuff by playing around with code. He drew on how learning new stuff sucks because it’s hard and for a while you’re really rubbish at it. However after you’ve learned new stuff you feel awesome because you overcame the challenge and can now do something new. If something is boring, it’s because it’s too easy – we should all play, create and share! Seb gave live coding demonstrations on the day, starting off by creating a repeating pattern on a Commadore 64 to show how simple it can be. He then moved on to show how by starting off with something simple you can add to it, learn and eventually build something interesting and engaging. He showed us some beautiful examples of interactive digital art that he had created using code, my favourite of which was a digital interactive fireworks display

Stephanie Troeth: The Beauty in the Impermanent

Stephanie taught the room that impermanent does not mean broken, more… touched by time. Likening it to Miso soup, which changes from being served cloudy, to settling like a starry night sky inside the black liquor bowl it is served in or like a leather case that gains character and gets better with age – “Wabi-sabi” – the Japanese view on the acceptance of imperfection. She questioned what happens to all the stuff that we put out into the world and told us to consider making things that last or grow better with time Digital decay Vs. Out of date Vs. Mellowed by age steph-troeth-sketch07

Wayne Hemingway: Wayne tells it like it is!

I have seen Wayne give this talk before, however I was glad to be refreshed. He is so engaging and tells a wonderful story of how Hemingway Designs became so successful and about the troubles and decisions he and his wife Geraldine had to make along the way. He talked of how they started out on Camden market and how they took risks, worked all hours and put every ounce of effort into what they believed in. He carried on about how this turned into the ‘Red or Dead’ brand and how the support they had from friends and family had helped them along the way. Some of the nuggets of advice I captured are:

Banish all fears of failure (unless it’s going to hurt someone, go for it)!

Taking risks can snowball and lead to other good things

It’s not only your work that matters, but also what you stand for!” – This is what people fall in love with and respect.


Wayne also touched on how new style housing troubles him because they look like prisons. Stating that people want green areas, adventure parks, community facilities – places with nostalgia and community values. Not barriers, tarmac and springy chickens! He enlightened us on how his passion about this very subject led to him and Geraldine having the opportunity to design a housing development that offers contemporary design, choice, play areas full of exploration and adventure. A place where there are community gardens, where people can thrive and get to know each other – I want to live there! Overall, Wayne was a joy to listen to and I could have listened to his stories all afternoon. Unfortunately he was in a small time slot, so crammed as much as he could within the half hour he had been given as the conference was sadly drawing to an end.

Jessica Hische: Procrastiworking

09-jessica-hischeLast up was Jessica. She bounced onto the stage introducing herself and immediately pointed out her cat print leggings… they were very bright, and very catty! I have never seen Jessica speak before but was aware of her beautifully enchanting work, unfortunately, she wasn’t here to talk about her work… she wanted to talk about procrastiwork! She told us that this is the work you do or feel like doing when you are putting off the work that you don’t feel like doing, and that this is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life. However, everyone has bills to pay and therefore most are not lucky enough to just do the work they love. On this note, Jessica gave some pointers on how to find the sweet spot between the work we love and the work for which we get paid. She advised to evaluate the work you do and figure out what part of the process you love the most… Researching? Thinking? Making? Think about the work that you’re currently doing and what parts of that work do you actually love doing? It is easier to figure out what you love this way and make small changes, than to just aspire to something in the future. Figure out what makes you happy? She mentioned project diversity – having enough work so that you have something different, but still productive to turn to when you need to step away from your current project. It’s about having enough diversity and the right balance to keep you satisfied!jessica-hische-sketch02

The Last Adventure…

After three fantastic years, I was sad to hear that this was the final adventure. Each conference has been wonderful in it’s own right, Colly and his team did an absolutely spectacular job and I for one will miss NAConf! Thank you so much and farewellheart08

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