Conference recap: Future of Web Design London

4 min read
Clair Byrd
  •  May 7, 2015
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The Future of Web Design: London boasted a packed house of incredible attendees, awesomely informative talks and fun sponsor activities, like a cocktail party for industry folk, etch-a-sketch logo design contests, and a walking tour of signage and typography in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood.

But the content truly rocked this show. Here’s a few highlights from my favorites.

“The Art of Deception” by Stephen Hay

Benevolent deception is present in UIs all around us. These deceptions give us the illusion of control.

Every design choice you make falls into 1 of 2 camps: you’re either frustrating your user or delighting them. Use these 7 clarifying techniques to guide your user toward delight:

  1. Use fewer props: Only include what’s absolutely necessary—ditch the rest.Twitter Logo
  2. Take advantage of memory: Consistently deploy design elements to avoid negative surprises.
  3. Visually clarify your props: Be clear about what everything does.
  4. Make the hidden visible: If something (like navigation) needs to be there, put it there.
  5. Eliminate time lags: Design with performance in mind.
  6. Eliminate interruptions: Any diversion between point A and point B is one diversion too many.
  7. Make procedures clear and flexible: Help users get stuff done, but don’t be too prescriptive about it.Twitter Logo

Check out all the slides.

“Getting there faster: rapid prototyping and iteration” by Billy Kiely

Now, the most creative people in companies are tackling much larger business problems than basic design challenges. Socialize your designs early and often with your team. This will help you uncover problems you didn’t know you had.

More and more businesses tap their creative folks to solve complex business challenges through design, instead of just asking them to react change requests. Because the business landscape is changing, we need to change the way we design, and how we get that design approved and reviewed.

Here’s 3 tips to help you shift your design process in the right direction:

1. Focus on your story

Think of your prototypes as minimum viable products (MVPs).Twitter Logo They need to convey a narrative arc, and you don’t need pixel perfection or buttery-smooth animations to do that. Pixel perfection should never get in the way of telling the best story you can, as fast as you can.

2. Treat investment as the enemy of creativity

If you spend too much tweaking minor details rather than delivering approved, production-ready files, you’ll get too invested. And never finish anything.

3. Avoid designing linearly

Instead of perfecting each screen before continuing, design your flow first, then dive into the details.Twitter Logo Otherwise, you might hit a flow-destroying roadblock and have to start all over.

“Cheaper by the dozen” by David Hurley

Time is our most valuable resource. How can we make our design more time-conscious?

Milliseconds matter. People are used to instantaneous service, so a 1-second delay can cost 2.5M in sales over the course of the year. Plus, people get frustrated and make mistakes when they have to do the same thing over and over again.

Which means that we have to design with time in mind.Twitter Logo Give your users a very clear path to follow. Keep engagement high, and initial time investment low.

As a bonus, if you can design in a time-conscious way, you’ll actually improve lives by relieving tension.

“Design for a 24-hour experience” by Jon Setzen

The fundamental challenge of any brand today is to connect with people on an emotional level and you can’t do that without intrinsically understanding their wants and needs.

Really great designs not only solve problems, but also create behaviors. Go beyond the purchase and anticipate behavior so you can influence that behavior.

Rules of designing 24-hour experiences:

  1. Don’t make assumptions.Twitter Logo
  2. Focus on 3 audience segments. “Everyone” is not an acceptable demographic to design for.
  3. Focus on 3 pillars that are the main supports for the brand story.
  4. Keep your inside jokes out of the naming process.
  5. Create and give unique, clear instructions.Twitter Logo And it’s okay to break the rules, e.g., create a 7-pack rather than a 6-pack, so people have one for each day of the week, etc.
  6. Focus on “little-big” design details: things that require little investment, but have big impact.
  7. Design to facilitate a shift between “need” to do and “want” to do.

“2020 Vision: The Web, Its Content, and a Near-Future Science Fiction” by Relly Annett-Baker

We aren’t considering the future in web projects we’re building and launching today. By not making these considerations, we’re massively under-preparing for 2020.Twitter Logo

Bad data handling jeopardizes the validity of real scientific trials and, to compound the issue, we hand data over to insurance companies, sales organizations, and less-than-ethical companies without much thought.

Plus, we’re removing all context and cultural detail from that data, which further abstracts our humanity and often results in wrong insights. We can’t forget that robots are not localizers.

To keep our humanity concrete and our data useful, we need to: Design content as the “legos” of the internet—evergreen building blocks that work with each other. And design with empathy, letting go of our inherent biases to treat our users better.Twitter Logo

A few more fine moments

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard