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New Adventures 2013 - Conference Recap

Last Thursday saw what is likely to be the last ever New Adventures in Web Design conference, and as a local company it would be rude not to take a trip down to the Albert Hall for an event with such a great reputation.

Initially devised by local boy Simon Collison in 2011 it’s always gone down as an absolute must for any web design aficionado due to the list of talented and well respected speakers who make an appearance each year, and 2013 was no exception.

Jason Santa Maria

Kicking off proceedings was the legendary Jason Santa Maria with a talk about the design process and how we should always design by utilising the content first. He also highlighted the importance of using very rough sketching for a starting point and not worrying about it looking nice in the very early stages.

Tyler Mincey

Tyler was up next and he spoke about the importance of working well together as part of a team. He gave a great insight into his time working at Apple with brilliant stories and examples of how the characteristics of a team where people share the same skills can help produce innovative work by working outside the constraints and pushing the boundaries.

Michael Heilemann

Michael gave a short but sweet talk on his own personal experiences in the industry, and how the stuff he was working on in his spare time became the stuff he was working on full time.

Tiago Pedras

Straight after lunch Portuguese web designer and teacher Tiago Pedras spoke about adapting the teaching process in order to keep up-to-date with the latest aspects of web design, or as he called it ‘Responsive Teaching’.

This was a really enjoyable talk and focused on his personal method of splitting his pupils into small groups that are set the task of creating a web app. The group with the best app at the end of the year is awarded the Golden Coconut!

Jon Tan

Bristol based designer Jon Tan gave a really great insight into web typography. He spoke about the scientific research into readability that can help designers with choosing the right fonts for each project.

He also delved into some CSS3 techniques to improve the look of web typography and spoke about how properties such as ‘font-variant-ligatures’ and ‘font-kerning’ (or ‘text-rendering: optimizeLegibility’ which combines both but can affect website performance if applied to all text on a site) can bring a font to life through the use of ligatures which in turn improve the readability and the general look of it. Some really handy tips that can definitely be utilised to enhance any web project.

Seb Lee-Delisle

Seb gave a really engaging talk on the benefits of mixing creativity with code. He has great charisma on stage and got the audience involved through his live coding section (which featured some old-school coding on a Commodore 64!). A real time visual example of some JavaScript writing in action gave the less confident developers in the crowd some insight into just how easy it can be to create stunning visual effects.

His aim was to convince more people to start coding and through his wit, charm and talents I’m sure he’s pulled it off.

Stephanie Troeth

This talk was a lot more abstract in style and focused on the importance of creating work that can constantly adapt and change. The running theme of the talk was to learn to embrace the impermanence of our digital world.

Wayne Hemingway

Probably the only name on the bill known to people outside of the ‘web-world’ Wayne Hemingway gave a brilliant account of his life and how he created a successful multi-million pound business by taking risks and standing up for what you believe in.

Jessica Hische

Finishing off the day and potentially New Adventures for good was the extremely talented Jessica Hische. She is a natural on the stage and gave a really captivating talk on ‘Procrastiworking’, or the practise of procrastinating from work you are supposed to be doing by taking on fun side projects.

She spoke about how important it is to get the balance right between doing the work that pays the bills, and doing the work you love.

Wrap Up

Overall it was a great day with some brilliant and engaging talks from well-respected and extremely talented web professionals. It certainly backed up what a brilliant place to work the web is and I took away some brilliant tips and tricks.  It will be a real shame if it is to be the last ever New Adventures, but talk about going out with a bang!

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