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Web Directions South 2013

For the final conference I’ll attend in 2013, I spent the last two days of last week down in Sydney for Web Directions South. After a couple year break from WDS, it was great to be back and a reminder why I need to go back next time. 

A web conference without code? Whaaaa?

Now, there may have been snippets of code shown on a couple of talks, but what I really love about WDS is that it’s generally more a conceptual & ideas conference. A great mix of Australian and International speakers spoke about much bigger problems or ideas that we face on the web, than just CMS/Platform-specific issues.

WDS has two tracks, development and design (excluding the keynotes which are for everyone). I am a developer – but – at Web Directions I spend more of my time in the design track, because, it’s not really a design track like most web conferences where you’d see someone talk about the latest tricks in Photoshop, no, most of these discussions were about much more.

Things that make you hmmmm

What I’ve always liked about WDS is that you leave after two days usually questioning much of what you’ve learnt or been doing lately. Talks on topics around emotion, interfaces, psychology  and user experience is something that I think the entire web can benefit from. Sure, some conferences tell you how to speed up WordPress, or make Drupal more secure, but what I love about WDS is that it’s just so platform-agnostic. Regardless of what type of code you write, we’re all trying to achieve the same things. Make awesome stuff for our clients + their users, or our users.

The takeaways

If I was to try summarise the conference, from what I enjoyed most and absorbed, would be the following:

Traditional responsive sites is a thing of the past. We are heading to a world where we have infinite screen resolution combinations and both faster and slower connections. How do you build a site that works on a smart watch (1″ Screen) and also a Smart TV (60″).

We are getting better and better at building smart, user friendly interfaces, but compared to other technologies or products, the web still has a long way to go. The web was originally something seen on a computer screen. Quickly the web has become something on mobile devices (mobile phones, tablets, washing machines, fridges, etc). How do we build interfaces that don’t feel like what we in the web industry describe as an “interface”.

Next year

Calendar permitting – I will be back next year, same time (end of October). It was a great couple of days. Along with catching up with other (non-WordPress) folk and just other people who do all kinds of  amazing stuff on the web. You should totally attend.

Lead Image credit, FlickR.

Ben May

Ben is Managing Director of The Code Company. He is passionate about working with publishers on clever and innovative ways to solve complex problems. He works with The Code Company team on all projects, bringing his perspective and problem solving skills to deliver great outcomes.

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