Category Archives: Events

FOWD Day 2

Molly on CSS spec :)Yikes, almost 2 weeks gone since FOWD day 2 – been a crazy time since then but here’s my highlights from day 2 at the Future of Web Design London.

Molly Holzschlag –  Progressive CSS3 Design

Quite a start to day 2 with Molly starting off with a call to action for all designers to have more input in the W3C Working Group. She presented a pretty matter-of-fact state of the web and where we are with CSS spec. The spec for CSS 2.1 isn’t finished and browser vendors and developers are already ploughing ahead with using the far from finished CSS 3 properties. It’s a all getting a bit crazy!

Posing the question of whether we should be going with a ‘progressive enhancement’ or ‘graceful degradation’ approach she recommended a ‘bridge building’ approach that somehow traverses the 2. Each project should be assessed individually for what kind of browser support you have to take into account but while you shouldn’t ignore older browsers and the problems they pose you need to get on top of what’s coming down the line.

Simon Collison – What Will Web Design Look Like in 2 Years?

An interesting musing on where the web and the web from a design perspective is headed. From questioning how the design process might change (should we design for mobile first and then desktop?) to the potential problem of the adoption of web fonts leading to widespread inappropriate use of typography on the web. Do designers understand grid systems properly and should they really be using them? How much web design in the next while is going to be purely experimental given the changes that lie ahead for HTML and CSS? His stunningly gorgeous website has more.

Aral Balkan – The Art of Emotional Design: A Story of Pleasure, Joy and Delight

One of my favourite sessions of the whole conference, partly because he spoke a whole lot of sense and partly because of his clear passion for what he does. He presented the question “why do we pay more for one thing over another?” Answer = UX. There’s a world of MP3 players available in the world yet the iPod still outsells them all despite not being one of the cheapest available. People like using them and are willing to spend a bit more for it.

For the second or third time at FOWD design and user experience is likened to our experiences with food. Essentially, to say that something is usable is like saying something is edible. Edible is fine but we want more than just edible. We go to a restaurant for more than edible food so let’s take that slant and apply it to user experience on the web. This idea I love.

And I loved his talk so much I’m going to have to give it some blog space all of it’s own. Seems I’m not the only one who gave him the thumbs up!

Bruce Lawson of Opera – How to build a HTML 5 Website (live demo)

As it says on the tin, a rapid how to for newbies on how to approach building a web page using HTML 5 markup and what the heck it’s all about and why we should care about it. Good overview and some useful tips on handling fallbacks for video formats in particular. Very much looking forward to getting stuck into the book that himself and Remy Sharp are writing on HTML 5 and its more advanced features.

Brett Welch of Adobe – Rethink Your Job (And Earn More Money)

Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much from a sponsor slot but hats off to Bretty for making some really interesting and valid points about the business side of the design and development process. Some of the main points from his talk:

  • Web designers need to think of themselves as web consultants (and consultant isn’t always a bad word!)
  • Don’t expect a website to be a success without a strategy
  • Set your goals
  • Measure the results
  • Don’t launch a website and leave it there – try a more iterative approach, agile development works on the web!

John Hicks – Icon Design

John Hicks of Hicksdesign is a well-known graphic, logo and icon designer who has produced some truly gorgeous work for well-know brands such as MailChimp and Opera. After a brisk step through of the history of icons and the concept of icon design he gave us some pointers and suggestions on how to approach the workflow for icon design including:

  • Is an icon appropriate in this scenario?
  • Choose the right metaphor
    • Realistic
    • Abstract
    • Aribitary/Symbolic
    • Application
    • A logo is not an icon!
  • Is there an existing convention?
  • Can you base it on familiar objects?
  • Avoid too much detail and decoration
  • Design on a grid
  • If you’re designing more than one icon design them together to maintain context and coherence

Check out his work and his blog here.

FOWD Day 1 – afternoon sessions

I popped up a quick post about the morning’s activity here, should you fancy a looksee.

Day 1 –  afternoon

The highlight of the afternoon, and indeed the day for many people was the UX Masterclass with Web Standardistas. Despite their 19 hour trek from Belfast thanks to the infamous ashcloud they kicked ass to a packed room. It’s the second time I’ve seen them give a presentation and I’m completely enthralled by their attitude, work and passion for what they do. Their trademarked UX Recipe (which I will have to go into in a post all by itself) will hopefully raise the game for at least everyone who was there.

Allan Haley gave us the low-down on what are doing with their web fonts service. Now I get that he’s a sponsor and we need them to run these kind of events but it was all just a bit too salesy for me. It was nice to get a demo of what you can do with web fonts but I’d like to have seen a more objective talk on web typography taking a look at all the options side by side.

Paul Boag shook things up with his ’5 new skills every designer needs to know’ presentation. He had asked people via Twitter to guess in advance what these might be and got lots of the typical stuff in response – HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, web fonts etc. His response? If you’re not already using them, well, you’re screwed. Amen to that! His recommended toolbelt additions for designers:

  1. Marketing
  2. Copywriting
  3. Contextual Awareness
  4. Strategy
  5. Psychology

Check the Boagworld blog here for the full gist of his talk. I recommend the Boagworld podcast if you fancy some regular ramblings on all things web. It can be a bit long and chatty for my liking so consider the ‘bitesize’ version that’s available on iTunes too.

FOWD London – overview of the morning

So I’m at Future Of Web Design London today and tomorrow thanks to X Communications. So far, so good. Here’s a general gist of what we’ve been listening to and seeing, more in-depth posts will come later…

Brendan Dawes, Magnetic North – Play. Destroy. Create.

An interesting take on creativity and where to find inspiration for your work. He loves maths and applying it to create new information structures and interfaces. Check out one of his projects, DoodleBuzz.

Dan Cederholm on CSS3

A great practical look at how and where to use CSS3 in current web projects. Check out his experimental project (both in terms of content and code) at

Remy Sharp, jQuery for Designers

A quick yet accessible overview of jQuery for people who don’t do hard-core code and want to add some visual gloss to their web projects. Some useful bits and pieces too for those of us who’ve been tinkering with jQuery for a while such as the FireQuery plugin for FireBug.

Robin Christopherson on accessibility

A rapid overview on web accessibility at present particularly in a mobile context. Using CAPTCHA? Consider using TextCaptcha instead for greater accessibility for all.

Carsonified introduce

A subscription service of varying price levels offering web designers and developers video tutorials, online conferences and reduced price tickets to FOWA, FOWD etc. Launches next month, 50% off for FOWD attendees if they sign up during the conference. See for more.

Like ink? Here’s an exhibition and a competition you might be into…

“My body is a journal in a way. It’s like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself.”

That’s Johnny Depp on his own ink and what caught my imagination when I read about an exhibition called ‘Ink‘ being organised as part of this year’s Bealtaine festival. Here’s the spiel:

Age & Opportunity has commissioned photographer Aidan Kelly to photograph and exhibit his images of the tattoos of older people. If, as novelist Jack London said, tattoos are a sign of ‘an interesting past’, then this exhibition attempts to capture the history that has been absorbed into a body.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the results. The exhibition runs at the Original Print Gallery in Temple Bar from this Sunday the 16th (opening at 2pm) and runs until the end of the month.

Ever fancied yourself as a tattoo artist?

Well then this might be your opportunity to give it a shot and maybe even unearth a new talent! DontPanic! are offering up quite a unique challenge in their monthly design brief with a ‘Skin Design Competition‘. Yes, you get the chance to design a tattoo and see it being worn on somebody’s skin. They’ve got a volunteer all lined up for the live tattooing of the winning design on July 22nd! Check the link for all the info.