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Future of Web Design 2009

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

The other week I attended the Future of Web Design conference and must admit to having come away a little disappointed. Personally I think there were mistakes made by both the organisers and the speakers that resulting in a conference weaker than the one I attended last year.


Due to late attendees last year and subsequent queuing the registration period was extended by an hour this year. For early arrivals this meant a fair amount of time waiting around as well as a reduction in the overall time for the conference by an hour. Given the costs involved in attending conferences you hope to have as much time as possible listening to the speakers. I’m of the opinion that if you’re late then you miss out and you should have arrived earlier.

The Speakers

Whether a conference fails or succeeds in an attendees mind is down to the speakers and how engaging they are and how much information they impart. This year’s conference had a mixture of new speakers, engaging speakers and informative speakers. However having engaging speakers is not enough, they must be able to educate you, or others if you know the subject already. Unfortunately there were a number of speakers that spoke more about their own experiences and career than any clear subject matter. In doing so this reduced the educational value of the conference which for me is the most important part of attending.

Other speakers did provide some educational worth, even if some spoke of processes and theories that may have applied more specifically to themselves than the majority of the room. Yet it is still good to learn how others can go about things and how they may apply to you.

There was one session that did not set the day off too well for me and that was the short session about Agile development that Ryan Carson himself said had to be shoe horned in because of it’s incredible worth. Personally I’m a little sick and tired about being told Agile or any other process is the best way to work as I always get the impression you’ll spend more time crying over the process rather than doing the work. Not only this but I still feel that few methodologies or processes other than Waterfall suit the normal client relationship.

and the rest…

This year I didn’t attend the workshops so can’t comment on those, the after party went well enough and the lack of a pre party was unfortunate I think, although it did make for a more sober conference morning. There were some nice extras such as vouchers for snacks at the conference and free journal and bag for conference attendees (even if the bag was breaking apart within 2 days).

Overall my views of the conference are mixed as I truly believe having speakers talk more about themselves than a specific subject is inexcusable. Of course all speakers will refer to their own experiences to inform or justify their views on a subject but with little or no subject you are simply listening to someone stroking their ego, something you do not want to be paying the privilege for.

Of course I do not organise conferences, speak at conferences and this is only my second ever conference so of course I probably would not be able to do better myself, but this post and this blog is built on my opinions whether right or wrong. Hopefully the FOWD tour later this year and FOWD London next year will be a return to last year’s standard which I felt was much better.