What I Learned From Web Design Day

As many know, I’ve been an avid “web guy” for a long time now, and have been itching to up my game beyond some of my recent side work. So when RefreshPittsburgh announced this Web Design Day, a small “one-day, low-cost conference for web professionals”, I was sold.

The day was invaluable for me, as a person not currently “in the industry” on the web side, and seeing how they go about projects in comparison to my video editing day job. But there were a few large take aways:

Analyze your process

Josh Sager kicked off the day with a fantastic, and most valuable to my situation, presentation about his process when taking on a project. The biggest thing I got from it was the years of revision he’s done to all of his processes. He shared his methods for conquering the pifalls over his years, and the idea of doing something of a post mortem on your project, and smoothing it over for next time. Being someone who hasn’t been working these processes in any environment, this session was exactly what I was looking for, and I plan to be adopting a lot of methods I learned here.

Typography can be really exciting

I took typography in my Multimedia and Web Design courses, but never imagined people really get into the subject. Watching Samantha Warren just got nuts about the subject was really inspiring, and changed some of the ways I’ll be looking at typography, instead of being a web design afterthought. While I was worried this would be a rehash of her recent talk at Refresh Pittsburgh a few months ago, that presentation was more based on some design methods, while this was about some typography inspiration.

Your web team is like Voltron

While I had an enjoyable listen to Chris Cashdollar of Philedelphia’s Happy Cog about Magazine influence on web design, the biggest visual take away I got (aside from a new source of inspiration) was that your team is like Voltron. While sometimes feel my team is like a retarded Voltron at times on projects, it’s a good visual that sparked a little bit of discussion that day.

You need a laptop at these things

The place was sort of light on the plug situation over at Left Field. Thankfully, we found some power strips and had our own little laptop commune. I think it’s needed for note taking (I’m much better on the keyboard) and investigating sites and tools mentioned during the lectures. There are things I would have never gone back for, or would have not stuck in my head, if it wasn’t for a visual on a page in my own browser.

Aside from these key points, I learned some critical design thinking about the seduction of a web page from Geoff Barnes, loved Cashdollar’s magazine retrospective, and received a dip in the water with wire framing and User Experience with Jason Robb and Whitney Hess, respectively.

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