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Future of Web Design: A Reaction

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

Future of Web Design (FOWD) 2010 is the third year I’ve attended the popular web design conference and this year quite a bit has changed. For me some of the changes were a little hit and miss but overall I’ve come away having learnt a lot and more importantly come away inspired to jump back into the job I love.

Rather than mess around reviewing all the individual sessions of the conference I thought I’d stick to highlighting some of the good bits and some of the crappy bits; but first the good bits:

So what was good?

Of all the changes this year the venue had to be the best, the previous wasn’t ever too shabby but being welcomed by a guy I could only describe as the venues butler. When it comes to speakers there were some excellent talks by the speakers I knew of such as Paul Boag and Simon Collinson but the best session had to be by Aral Balkan, who appeared to get the biggest applause at the end too.

Being a two track conference this year it was at times difficult to choose which session to attend but as all session’s were recorded I can go back and watch the ones I missed as well as replay the ones I did see. When you are taking in so much information in such a small amount of time this is an excellent thing to do.

So what was shitty?

Sponsors sessions are traditionally a little boring, this year wasn’t any different. Although the Mailchimp and Business Catalyst session were pretty good the session was a bit poor. Also being subjected to the Think Vitamin Membership sales pitch twice was a bit grating, and it surprises me that people signed up based on the information provided. Personally I prefer more information before handing over £17 a month.

Although the move to two tracks over two days is a good move it appears that the planning of it was a little off. Between the launch of the website and the actual conference it appears that some track two sessions were dropped or could not be filled as well as design clinics added to fill up some spots. This coupled with longer breaks means I think the conference could have been filled up a bit more to make it true value for money.

On a many few sessions the time given to the speaker did appear to be a little short as unlike previous years many speakers didn’t have time to take questions from the audience, the ability to ask the speakers these questions is what makes the difference between attending the conference and just paying for the video pass.

And finally networking

I’m crap at networking, I’ve never been one to instigate a conversation with a complete stranger, yet creating connections seems to be the personal endeavour of Ryan Carson. It’s rather admirable but many geeks aren’t ones for networking and shy away from the mere mention of the word. I think if he wishes to continue with this he needs to get a little sneakier with it and hide the networking in something more playful or even trick people into networking in some way. No one will hate the guy for it and people will make connections without really knowing they have.


All in all I do think the conference was excellent and I’ve come away with a few good ideas to throw into my work. As the years have gone on the amount of new information I have gained from the conference has been less but for me these events get me inspired to get back to work and try and do new things for my clients and improve the way I work with both clients and the rest of the company.