web directions south

Those who know this site will see that there has been a major overhaul – obviously not the first, and certainly not the last. What brought this one on?

Well, I’ve just spent two days being inspired, challenged and stimulated by some of the most inspiring, challenging and stimulating speakers on matters web-related. I had to do something!!

Web Directions South

There’s plenty about WD06 around the place, but here are my highlights:

  • Kelly Goto: her two sessions focused on the user experience of websites, firstly in “Designing for Lifestyle” and then in “The Iterative App:. Very oriented twoard people who make websites for a living and need to meet client expectations. Very practical, with the emphasis on establishing and refining the process of web design and development. I call myself an ethnographer although I don’t have a degree. You don’t need one, Kelly.
  • Mark Pesce: everything you’d want in a closing address. You-biquity focused on our human interrelatonship and the role that the web can and will play. His field is humanity and he’s not afraid to embrace the full scope of that statement. What separates us from chimpanzees is the number and depth of social connections we carry in our heads.
  • Derek Featherstone: for the second year running. “Accessibility 2.0” allowed Derek to riff on why and how providing web access to people with disabilities affirms the basic principle of universal access on which people like Tim Berners Lee based the web. Funny, moving and practical. It’s not about checklists, it’s personal.
  • Andy Clarke: style incarnate. “Creating Inspired Design” was a lesson in freeing yourself to find style inspiration in everything around you, to expand the style boundaries of the web experience. All delivered by a sharp man in a sharp suit. The web is not a power drill.
  • Jeremy Keith: also with two sessions. “Explaining Ajax” lived up to its name, an entertaining overview of how Ajax evolved and what it can do. “Progressive Enhancement with Hijax” was more code-oriented than the first idiot-friendly session, but it was still surprisingly easy to follow. Jeremy’s obvious enthusiasm makes javascript seem more accessible than I’d thought. It clearly helps to have an x in the name.
  • Cameron Adams and Kevin Yank: two funny, clever guys. APIs and mashups, aggregating available resources to form web facilities, a lot of funny stuff, some mindblowing, some scary. Oooh, a moth.

Highlighting these speakers is not meant to diminish in any way the contributions of the other presenters I saw (Thomas Vander Wal, Gian Sampson-Wild, John Allsopp and Laurel Papworth). The whole shebang was great, including meeting people like Drew Robinson and comparing notes.

This conference built very successfully on the foundations laid by the 04 and 05 Web Essentials events, where I was exposed to the work of Dave Shea, Joe Clark, Doug Bowman, Russ Weakley, Jeffrey Veen, Eric Meyer, Tantek Çelik and Molly Holzschlag (the latter was here again but I couldn’t make her pre-conference workshop with Andy Clarke or her breakfast session “Defining the New Professionalism”, worse luck).

I have to seriously consider getting myself over to Vancouver for Web Directions North, where a lot of the aforementioned will present along with others I’m aware of but haven’t yet seen, like Aaron Gustafson, Dan Cederholm and Cameron Moll.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for implementing some of the things I’ve learned – starting with this website.