New Adventures in Web Design 2011

Originally posted on 24th January 2011 by Ian Harris

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Ever since I bought our tickets for the New Adventures in Web Design conference back in August, I’ve been really looking forward to it and it’s probably fair to say that when Lou and I headed up the M1 to Nottingham late last Wednesday, I was getting pretty excited. Lou and I have never been to an web industry conference before and to be honest, I wasn’t too sure what to expect.

We absolutely loved it from start to finish. Everything about the day way exceeded any expectations that we had and we came away from this amazing event with heads full of exciting new ideas and a heap of new industry friends.

In this brief overview, I’m going to focus more on our experience of the day as a whole rather than a review of each of the speakers, but I will list a few links to some great reviews that go into more detail of each talk at the end of this post.

The Conference

The venue for the conference was the Albert Hall in Nottingham, which provided an ideal setting for the day (even though the seats started to get a bit uncomfortable after a few hours). I kind of knew what the basic format of these types of events would be like, but I couldn’t quite picture in my mind beforehand how the day would pan out and what usual information I would be able to bring back and use in our day to day work here at Carron Media. At first, I was a bit worried that we would miss the start as the queue was literally around the block to get in, but fortunately Colly delayed the start until everybody was in. Even with the delay, the whole event felt very professionally organised, but still keeping a personal, intimate atmosphere.

Probably one of the most amazing aspects of New Adventures was the price; we paid £80 each for an early bird ticket. This wasn’t just a bargain, it was a steal. The opportunity to hear some of the industries top speakers was worth way more than this alone and when you factor in that it included lunch (the now infamous ‘Lunch in a bag’ complete with mini-quiches) and a free bar at the after party, it becomes even better value.

For the event, Simon produced a newspaper full of unique content and interviews and both PDF and physical copies can be purchased for a little as £1.50 on their website, which is well worth it and I would highly recommend that you buy one!

The Speakers

When I first saw the list of speakers, the two that immediately sprang out to me were Andy Clarke and Elliot Jay Stocks, whom I have admired in the industry and learnt a huge amount from and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Andy’s talk was beautifully crafted and used similarities in old school comic strips to tell his message about using space on a website to give the reader the impression of timing and telling a story.

The talks started of brilliantly with Dan Rubin‘s “The New Language of Web Design” talk where he spoke about the language that we use and just how important this language is when dealing with clients. This was the ideal start as it got my head thinking straight away.

Jon Tan‘s talk “Language and the Lizard Brain” was a very interesting and thought provoking insight into how we can understand the emotions of users and use them to build better websites. The last talk of the day was from Brendan Dawes who’s highly entertaining talk focused on product design and his passion for stationary.

One thing that certainly resonated with me was the part of Tim Van Damme‘s talk where he detailed how it was our responsibility to pass on our knowledge back to the community. It was really reassuring to hear this as I learnt my way in the web business from the blogs and websites of other designers & developers and I think that it’s important that this trend continues. I can’t think of many of industries where this transfer of knowledge so openly happens and that makes us pretty unique.

I have to admit, I was initially expecting a bit more practical geeky stuff and perhaps some more code based tutorials form the talks, but as it turns out, I think all of the talks were way more useful and I’m glad that they weren’t all about code and design trends.

The Web Community

Even though the event was really well organised and the talks were inspiring and entertaining, there main thing that both Lou and I took away with us was the sense of being part of a community, even though we had only met everybody for the first time that day. As I said, I think that this is really unique and there aren’t many industries where we have the opportunity to talk to so many like minded people.

There are no ego’s or social hierarchies here, just lot’s of liked minded individuals who are more than willing to chat and share their knowledge with you. And you can’t beat that.


This really was a truly wonderful and enjoyable experience and I really want to thank Simon Collison and his team of hard working volunteers for putting on such a well organised event. It was so apparent that Colly put heart and soul into getting it right, and he did.

Also, thanks to all of the speakers for giving us a load of great talks and sources of inspiration. Although I’m risking sounding a bit cliched and over emotional, we’re can’t explain enough how much we enjoyed meeting so many new people and we are really looking forward to catching up with you all again in 2011 and beyond!

Other Useful Reviews

UPDATE: Read Lou’s review on her day out


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