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Reflecting on FOWD '08

I attended the Future of Web Design Conference in London. For me the conference did not deliver on ideas but did on meeting people.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Table of contents

Not far from home

As a resident of London, the Future of Web Design conference seemed a good choice for me. The venue was easy to get to and I liked the speaker list. With a focus on the design and user experience side I felt it would be a good introduction to conferences as well as a chance to learn some new ideas. I enjoyed the pre-party sponsored by Media Temple a litte too much though..

Well organised

Rising with a slightly fuzzy head I made my way to the conference. It was extremely well organised and even though the event was sold out I was able to get my pass with minimal fuss and settle in for the speeches.

This was the point at which I started to wonder why I had come. Worse is that I felt all of the speakers did a good job and almost all of them gave well structured, and well presented speeches. From Patrick McNeil talking about design inspiration, to Daniel Burka sharing his design experiences all of the speakers were open, honest and professional.

Was I stimulated? No. Did I learn anything new? Not really. This was a disappointment to me. Watching the excellent Jon Hicks was entertaining but I know how to set up a local site and code CSS templates thanks. Perhaps I was expecting too much but I had hoped to have my assumptions challenged and to go away wanting to try new things. None of that happened.

Even Paul Boag, who did a good job as compere of the event, didn’t seem entirely convinced about some of the content. For me (and I suspect this was the wrong conference for me) the content was too cuddly and pitched at too low a level for it to be provoking or challenging. Perhaps it was just that my expectations were too high. Basically I felt safe and I really wanted to be moved outside my comfort zone.

Meeting people

The saving grace of the event, and probably the main reason I would return to a Carsonified event, was meeting people. Hanging out at parties or bumping into people in the venue was a great way of meeting like-minded designers and developers. I’ve made new contacts and that was worth entrance fee alone.

That said perhaps I should pick my conferences more carefully next time. Andy Budd, Paul Farnell and Patrick McNeil aside I didn’t feel had any of the assumptions I had challenged. Sorry - I know you were trying your hardest…

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