Last Friday the 6th annual dConstruct conference hit Brighton. I was particularly excited about dConstruct, not only because it’s in my hometown but also because, although it’s a web conference, it appeals to many different disciplines inside the industry, but also from outside. Most of the talks are less about specifics and more about opening minds which is what we really need in the web industry.
I’ve always thought that, although the web industry is naturally fast paced due to constant advances in technology, the people within the industry often lag behind and are often behind the times mainly due to an influx of people from graphic design or programming backgrounds.
We often end up in a vicious cycle, learning from each other within the industry, which is not always healthy. This year dConstruct was particularly good for speakers bringing in insights and comparisons to other industries – this is often the best way to learn and be inspired!
Here are some of my highlights from the day:
The Designful Company – Marty Neumeier
A great start to the day from Marty with an inspirational talk about design thinking and how it is becoming the only way to ‘win’ in business. You need to innovate to be a true success and you need to be good and different. Companies that focus on design will always have a competitive edge.
The Auteur Theory of Design – John Gruber
Ever noticed how films are generally always directed by one person (with exception to brothers)? This is because in order to get such high quality in film, the creation must be controlled by one person as multiple people will usually create an adverse effect. “The quality of any collaborative endeavour tends to approach the level of taste of whoever has control.”
In the web industry we often see collaborative projects and ‘design by committee’, the result of which is often inferior compared to when one person is allowed to see their vision come to fruition through clear directorship of a team.
Jam Session: What Improvisation Can Teach Us About Design – Hannah Donovan
An unusual but welcome start to a talk with a three-piece ensemble playing an improvised piece of music. Hannah spoke about how, when a group of musicians improvise, it is often how amazing new things can happen. Many people at the conference felt this was contradictory to an auteur approach; however a team of designers still needs to inject ideas and personality into a project.
Everything The Network Touches – Tom Coates
Another inspirational and amazingly polished, visual talk about how, through the internet, we should be aware of how we can weave new technology into physical products. For example, Withings, a set of body weighing scales that connects to the internet to allow you to record and track your weight through an iPhone app. Another example was Wireless Parking – designed to reduce congestion; a system set up in San Francisco to allow people to see which parking spaces are available through sensors mounted on each space and feeding back to you through an iPhone app. This technology is available now and designers can now use it to innovate and push things forward.
Other talks I saw on the day included: “Kerning, Orgasms & Those Goddamned Japanese Toothpicks” by Merlin Mann, “Boil, Simmer, Reduce” by Brendan Dawes, “Information Is Beautiful” by David McCandless, “The Power & Beauty of Typography” by Samantha Warren and “The Value Of Ruins” by James Bridle.
All in all, a great day for learning, inspiration and meeting new faces. Roll on dConstruct 2011!