There is something magical about NYC that pushes creativity to the surface, so it's no surprise that this year's Future of Web Design, NY conference was like a full year of concentrated creativity packed into three days of fun and learning. From Paull Young's opening keynote on the importance of great web design to charity:water, to Wednesday's full-day workshops, NYC was buzzing with web design goodness.
Our conference producers and logistics coordinators put an awful lot of time and energy into making sure every attendee gets the experience they deserve at these events. It's gratifying to hear from attendees, sponsors, and speakers that we've hit the mark. (Which is not to say everything went perfectly -- the venue had some pretty serious technical issues with WiFi and display setups that we struggled with much of the time. We are well aware of the impact of those things on the conference experience.)
There were a ton of highlights throughout the conference, but here's my personal list of things I'll keep with me:
1. Pitch-perfect keynotes from Paull Young, Chris Coyier, Karen McGrane, and Carl Smith. Each keynote had its own subject matter and personality, but all were well-structured and passionately delivered. It was an honor just to bring these amazing speakers to the stage.
2. Breakout performances from new speakers. I didn't get to see every session, but the reviews for all of our first-time or relative newbie speakers were glowing. I know Chris Jones, Claire Chandler, Erica Heinz and Joe Stewart rocked the house in a big way.
3. Bridging the gap between the future and the present. Web design is in a period of long transition between the old, flat web and the new deep web, with CSS3 and HTML5 still settling in. That means vendor prefixes and a ton of new stuff all the time. Chris Coyier and Zoe Gillenwater, I think, did a remarkable job addressing these things in their presentations, giving the audience a framework through which they can approach current projects while keeping the future in mind.
4. Adobe Reflow looks pretty sweet. Now that responsive web design is the new paradigm by which all design will be measured, it makes sense for Adobe to come out with a tool to help designers speed up the process of building responsive sites. Jacob Surber from Adobe was on hand to show off Reflow, an soon-to-be-released tool that allows designers to sketch out a site by dragging and resizing boxes, images, and text, and setting breakpoints in a visual window. Reflow then exports the CSS for use in your project.
5. The audience ruled. I told several terrible jokes from the main stage, and got several rounds of sympathetic laughter. That's how you know your audience kicks ass.
But please don't take my word for it. Here are a few tweets I gathered from the #FOWD hashtag: