On Friday 21st October, two members of the SketchCode Studio staff attended the Bristol Web Developers Conference 2011 (WDC2011) in Bristol.
Now there has been a quite a few write-ups of the talks and how the day went already, so instead of simply adding to that noise we’re going to focus on some of the reasons why we think it’s good to attend the odd web design or web development conference.
One of the best things you (or your employees) will get out of a design conference is a huge amount of fresh ideas and inspiration. Even if you browse the web every day for inspiration you most-likely go about it using the same methods, end up on the same sites, and collect the same types of design. With a big design conference there’s no filter. You’re in a huge room completely saturated with professional design ideas.
In the case of the WDC2011, we were in the Bristol Odeon cinema. The room was full of developers, designers and students from across the UK, sat around chatting (or staring at their phones/laptops) until Alex Older, the event organiser, introduced himself and acted as our host for a series of excellent speakers and talks.
One of the criticisms of some developer conferences in the past has been that they often focused on discussing almost nothing but coding, which can be completely alienating if you haven’t written it yourself (or if you’re not primarily a full-on coder). However the Bristol WDC2011 was different! Hardly a line of code in site, instead simply an informal atmosphere, focusing on a lot of practical information, some design theory and just a touch of tomorrows web to get the audience excited!
We’re not going to write about all the talks, but you may like to look up the speakers, so the line-up for the WDC2011 was as follows:
Neil Dennis from Strawberry Soup
Rob Hawkes (@RobHawkes)
Ben Bodien (@bbodien) from Neutron Creations
Elliott Kember (@ElliottKember) from Riot
Paul Annett (@nicePaul)
John O’Nolan (john.onolan.org/ – @johnonolan)
Paul Boag (BoagWorld – @BoagWorld)
One of the potential problems with a full days of of talks, is that it can actually lead to a bit of an inspiration overload if you try to take in and mentally note everything you see. Some good advice is to not exhaust yourself by thinking too hard about the inspiration you’re seeing. Why not take a quick photo of anything you like or at the very least bring a sketchpad (remember those old paper thing that were used before smart phones and laptops?) and quickly jot down and/or sketch anything you see that you think will come in handy later. Otherwise just have fun and let your brain catalogue what it will on autopilot. When you’re sitting at your desk the following week thinking about new design ideas, the things you saw at the conference will start resurfacing in your memory. Another good point is to find out what the conferences twitter tag is (Predictably the WDC was #WDC2001) and follow along with the tweet stream, as a lot of people will highlight a lot of the key points for you, and normally the speakers will tweet links to the slides of their talks a day of so after.
Another reason to attend a web design conference, apart from keeping an eye on what’s currently happening in the design community, is that design conferences are one of the best places to learn about where the industry is heading and what the next big thing might be. Years ago, speeches were being given regularly at design conferences about how social media would rule the world one day. Some enterprising individuals obviously paid close attention and obtained the coveted first mover advantage in what would become a huge market.
Finally, and whether you like it or not, you’ve chosen a career that demands constant evolution and education. You have two options: keep up or be left behind! Conference workshops, discussions and speeches will help educate you in the various subjects on your list of things you keep telling yourself you’ll take the time to learn but probably never will. As a designer and/or developer, every new marketable talent you pick up increases your knowledge, skillset and competitive advantage.
To sum up…
All in all a fantastic day of listening and learning in Bristol, and one we hope to attend again in future!