Future of Web Design, day 2

The second day of FOWD NYC somehow managed to trump day one, which was already so fantastic. The morning got off to a great start with Cameron Moll encouraged us to push ourselves into areas where we're not comfortable and to go ahead and make mistakes. He was followed by Whitney Hess who suggested that we look at some Principles of UX to ensure that our designs provide excellent experiences. Dave Shea's talk on the future of CSS was really exciting for me, I secretly geeked out learning that things like nth child can finally be supported, 5 years after I first learnt and tried to use it. He focussed on the lesser known aspects of CSS3 and suggested that it's time to drop a lot of the vendor prefixes. He also introduced some CSS4 stuff, and concepts like the Shadow DOM which will allow us to style browser-rendered items (welcome back coloured scroll bars!) There are some new layout options being developed, but I can't say any of them really grabbed me. He also gave a little warning that using a lot of CSS3 things on the page can significantly slow down the browser rendering, so we do need to still use these with caution even though it's created via CSS. Having lunch with Dave was a real highlight of the day, he is definitely a super talented person.

Looking at the Future of Mobile UX with Steve Fisher was actually not so much about mobile... he encouraged us to think of sites and that it's no longer about the devices themselves that people use to view it. These sites need coherence, but do not need to be the same as each other. We should look at patterns in the medium people are using, and remember the moment that people are using them in by mimicking things that people are used to already using on that medium (for example, allowing the keyboard to slide away on an iPhone as you can in the messaging).

I loved the talk from Randy Hunt, Creative Director for Etsy, especially as we are working on developing the brand at work right now. He emphasised that manufactured brands show and create a lack of trust, so it's ultra important that the brand is a genuine reflection of the values of the company and what is already happening. The control of this is already being given over to the customer or community around the company, and this is going to continue to grow - we can only try to nudge it in a direction and listen to what the community is saying. Smart content, an honest story and a memorable personality holds it together. I managed to talk to Randy after the talk to get some more detail, as obviously Etsy is a great brand that is already leaning towards these things, and he strongly recommended the book The Brand Gap.

The day ended on a high with Joshua Davis. As someone who loves creating with textiles, I really loved his approach to offline work and realising that computers are only a tool, nothing more. Stay human, stay analogue, and we retain a warmth to our work that cannot be obtained otherwise. As designers, let's stay teachable (no complacency!), opinionated (but no ego and not arrogant), and have faith in yourself.

There were 2 streams and I didn't make it to every talk, so for a different take on the conference, check out Sophie's excellent blog post. I met so many great people at FOWD NYC and felt that it was such a great setting for a design conference; it was really worthwhile making the trip for it :)