After lunch I was looking forward the talk by Sabrina Dent “Throwing Client Collaboration Out of the Window: The Stalinist Web Design Model”. My main reason for wanting to see the talk was that the title suggested it would be controversial. As it happens, it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Sabrina delivered her material very well, but I don’t think a lot of the concepts she was delivering were relevant to the majority of people. Her main idea was to eliminate choice from the client as they are not the expert. Also saying ‘no’ to clients so that if they really want what they are requesting they will push for it. But the reason I think it was out of most people’s scope was that you had to have a lot of experience and credibility for this methodology to work, which only comes from using the traditional methods. Also I believe that this approach could create a lot of conflict between you and the client and pen you as a trouble maker in the industry.
Then came Folkert Gorter’s talk “Participatory Evolution: Excerpts from a decade of Interaction Design on the Web”. From Folkert’s work I was expecting big ideas, but I feel it failed to deliver. The main narrative was Folkert showing the audience his personal portfolio. Lots of interesting examples, but it seemed like he was looking for a job and not teaching the audience anything new. One of the main points from the talk was the process of developing a concept, but it wasn’t a clear point at all.
With over 13 years of experience Simon Sankarayya was clearly going to be a good presentation. “13 years and 13 things I have learned about computers” outlined key events in the history of his career. Like Folkert, Simon chose to deliver a presentation around his personal portfolio, unlike Folkert key points were made about the evolution of the web we know today. Stand out moments involved the MTV2 website that his agency created. Later that same branding moved on to be used as the TV brand. Despite the fact this talk taught me nothing new, it was a very clear and an interesting presentation.
A very big hitter in the industry, Molly Holzschlag, rounded off the day. A key player in the WASP consortium, and an advocate for web standards everywhere. Her talk “The Future of Web Standards: Is There One?” tackled the big issues with web standards today. She championed the idea of supporting old browsers not by versioning, but by providing progressive enhancement. Not a new idea but an important one none the less. Although it was delivered with real passion and energy I couldn’t help but feeling one major issue was left out. How do we as an industry convince and educate clients about progressive enhancement in a way that will allow us to use it? (Any comments on the issue, please feel free to share).
Overall I found the day thoroughly enjoyable. As with every year, there are stand out talks , this year I’d personally say Robin Cristopherson wins on that front. His talk has convinced me that a lot more research needs to be put in with end users to see which techniques we are using hinder the experience for them.
Well done to the Carsonified team for putting on a great event, I look forward to seeing what next year brings. If you are interested in listening to any of these talks you can find them at http://events.carsonified.com/fowd/2009/london/content