New Adventures in Web Design Conference 2013 – Part One


I recently had the fantastic opportunity of attending my third New Adventures in Web Design Conference, in Nottingham. This conference holds a special little place in my heart as it was the first design related conference I had attended back in 2011.

As always the line up was brilliant and I was excited to hear what words of wisdom would be sprinkled upon us. Throughout the day I made plenty of notes and decided to share the nuggets of inspiration that stuck with me.

Jason Santa Maria: The Nimble Process.

Jason talked about his experience at TypeKit and how he learned to forget about fidelity. He told us about how details in the beginning are not important, it’s about getting the idea across as fast as possible, it’s about sketching ugly ideas, showing the unpolished thinking and the rubbish first draft. He told us to avoid getting stuck in our process and how sketching ideas is about being a good thinker, not a good artist – sketch to exhaust your ideas, then the original ideas will start to sprout. He mentioned how he works with content first, laying all the assets out and moulding them to focus on what message you’re trying to convey, design to get the message right first before working to a grid. “DECIDING in the browser instead of DESIGNING in the browser!” Good design happens through good constraints – Early on you need few constraints, then introduce more constraints later on in the process. He also mentioned about using InDesign to play with responsive layouts, although this is usually used for print based design, he told us how the ease of reflowing text, changing grids and copying assets is a really good way to get your ideas down – I must try this!

Tyler Mincey: Appropriate Tension.

02-tyler-minceyTyler spoke about his experience of working at Apple where he managed the engineering development of the iPod touch interface and how visiting the factories gave him the opportunity to work with highly diverse teams of people. He mentioned how this gave him the opportunity to make many friends along the way and how having a team of people that can challenge you (in a respectful way) really makes a difference to your work and way of thinking. It is important to get the right amount of push and pull in an environment where you can make mistakes, learn and where people have respect for both experience and youth. He talked about the importance of collaboration and longevity within a team and how real innovation happens by moving constraints not just designing within them!


Michael Heilemann: The Inertia of Ideas

Michael told us about his gripes when reading other peoples blogs… he talked about how he used to jot down when something annoyed/confused him, for example “Previous” and “Next” buttons instead of “Older” and “Newer” and how these gripes lead to him designing the ‘Kubrick’ WordPress theme in his spare time… This design is now the WordPress ‘default’ theme. He advised to “Do what you love, follow your instinct, realise what you’re good at and follow your bliss!

Tiago Pedras: Responsive Teaching


Tiago enlightened us to how he teaches web design to the next generation via the introduction of ‘The Golden Coconut Award’. He spoke about how he has introduced gamification and formed teams to build a web app over the duration of a semester. He focused on having teams rather than groups and each team had a name, a flag and each person within the team had a job title and responsibility. He made rules that were printed out and mounted on the wall and a schedule with a launch date that included an awards ceremony. He spoke about how working this way brought out the commitment and motivation in his students, it made the work fun and allowed creativity to flow. Some of the gems from Tiago’s presentation:

Define yourself and always keep learning.

Be aware, be free and react.

Commit to what you are doing, love what you do and share it.

Part 2 coming soon…

As there were nine speakers in total, each as inspiring as the next – I made lots of notes!  The remaining speakers will be covered in a separate post

Do you have any inspirational gems you have carried through your career?

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