On 26th September, Atelier's design team attended the WXG Conference in Guildford. Hosted by web agency Kyan, WXG is dedicated to exploring cutting-edge web & digital experiences. With such wide-ranging topics as user interface design, creation of music via code and cloning the Internet, it was a fascinating and eye-opening event. Here are some of our key takeaways from the day.
On how best to design for the web:
- Apply knowledge rather than simply copying somebody else – use other people's tools and techniques to inspire your own solutions to creative problems.
- Tempting as it is, don't be too desperate to shoehorn in new 'shiny' trends for the sake of it.
On CSS and the future of styling websites:
- CSS is a constantly evolving language with ever-increasing possibilities. However its future is shaped by a surprisingly small group of people; it is therefore easy (and important) to make a difference by contributing to the specification of future versions.
On user experience (UX) design:
- There appears to be a 'cargo cult' forming around UX. Some designers see the magic of the results and try to replicate them without a proper understanding of how it works and why.
- The UX designer role focuses strictly on how a product 'does' and 'behaves' rather than how it looks.
- For further reading of the pitfalls of designers mistakenly claiming to 'know' UX, see the 'Dunning-Kruger effect'.
On web typography:
- Time spent on the web involves reading so much text, therefore legibility and effective typography are extremely important considerations.
- Good quality typography = greater immersion.
- For the best effect when pairing typefaces, they must either be stylistically similar or completely disparate e.g. an Old Style serif with a more modern Humanist sans-serif.
On evolving and growing as a designer:
- Be happy with what you are creating!
- Hoard everything and anything that could inspire in the future – even if it's for a small reason, such as the colour palette of an image or photo.
On creating strong infographics:
- Show, don't tell.
- Infographics represent data and its relativity – they're not just meant to be pretty digital posters.
On the process of designing icons and interfaces:
- Good icon design can improve accessibility; overcoming language barriers, colour blindness and so on.
- There are conventions for commonly-used icons, but also International localisation issues to be aware of (relating to perception and interpretation).
- Accompanying an icon with text can complete the context.
- It's time to end the usage of sprites for icons on the web – SVGs or icon fonts take their place.
We found WXG useful as a starting point for internal discussion and for discovering uncharted areas of web design in which to innovate. The conference opened our eyes to exciting new possibilities for shaping the way people use the web. It was inspiring to witness the energy generated by a gathering of local creative minds, and useful to compare/contrast our working methodologies.
Here's looking forward to WXG 2015!