Jon Gold

This post is 4 years old — please take it with a pinch of salt!

4 minute read · January 25, 2013

New Adventures

I’m notoriously bad at publishing my thoughts after conferences—I have a #buildconf essay spanning two conferences and 17 months of faffing and drafting—so I thought I’d post something about New Adventures while the memories (and hangover) are still fresh.

I’m totally addicted to Branch at the moment so I made a group to chat about each of the talks. Would love to have you in the group talking about the day — send a request to join :)

Jason Santa Maria talked about process. We’re well past the stage where we should be going off into a Design Cave™ and come out the other end with a pixel-perfect ‘painting of a website’; we need to adapt our workflow to iterations. We need to learn how to ship great work consistently; there’s a tension between being a perfectionist and having consistent iteration cycles. I always thought it was weird how the engineers in our startups work to an Agile process but we sometimes add on a ‘waterfall’ layer of design before that.

Tyler Mincey spoke about his time at Apple working with some amazing inter-disciplinary teams and how we get the best work done working with others. Great insight into the dynamics of the best teams.

Michael Heilemann did a quick talk on doing work you want to be doing. The stuff you do in your spare time is the stuff you should be doing 9-5.

Tiago Pedras made me want to be a teacher. Since I graduated I’ve had mixed feelings about design education. I’m really glad I learnt to kern from old Swiss dudes with white beards, but my uni didn’t prepare me at all for the work I’m doing now. That’s cool, I learnt to learn. I often find myself thinking designers should be taught to design in uni rather than how to be web designers because of the fluidity of our industry and the pace of change, but people like Tiago and Chris Murphy are exciting me about what we can do if we stop trying to adapt graphic design courses to the digital era and instead tailor courses from the ground up to be representative of the industry. Anyway, bigger blog post for another time. If any design schools want a guest lecturer with a rad moustache and an equal penchant for Akzidenz Grotesk and JavaScript, [get in touch](mailto: icanspeak@designedbygold.com).

Jon Tan got me excited about typography all over again. Great talk and some really insightful (but easy to understand) scientific research on readability & aesthetics mixed in with gifs of elephants on trampolines. Want to finish writing this post so I can go and kern something.

Seb Lee-Delisle made everyone in the audience want to code. Brilliant and engaging talk (with live coding on a Commodore64 and in JS!); also great insight into the power of being a hybrid (something I’m very passionate about) and doing work you want to do. Would love to do one of his training courses.

Steph Troeth spoke about Wabi-Sabi and looking to make our work adapt to an era of impermanence. The stuff we do is in constant flux; an iteration might only be live for a few weeks, or we might have a CMS dealing with 5 years of content. Our work should get better with age and we should adapt to change.

Wayne Hemingway gave a hilarious account of how he got rich by taking risks, standing up for what he believes in, and banning French people from his events.

Jessica Hische was a great way to finish off the day (and to close New Adventures for good?). Similar in tone to Michael’s talk earlier in the day, Jessica was talking about doing the work we love to do (and that people will pay us to do!). Made me realise how lucky we are to be able to do stuff we love every day; this industry is amazing. Also talking about side-projects, burn-out, balance, inspiration and cats.

Rad, so those were the talks. I need to finish this post so I can design something, brain exploding with awesomeness just thinking about yesterday (and flashbacks of the past few years).

A couple of other points…

Women in tech. I’ve always thought #naconf has had a great demographic mix (especially compared to other conferences); this year there were noticeably even more women there than years past. This is good news; this is progress. Anecdotally, my girlfriend reported having to queue for the toilets for the first time ever at a web conference so I guess there are downsides. Anyway…

On a personal note, New Adventures has been a hugely important part of my career and my development as a designer. The first one in 2011 was the first time I met lots of the people I’m lucky enough to call friends and colleagues now, and the first time I really felt part of the web design community. The events have always been excellent, and if this is the last one then they’ve definitely gone out on a high. Colly and Greg — if you’ve bothered to read this far down; thanks guys :)

Last thing — there was a bit of an incident involving two men, a piano and a hefty repair bill. If you could spare a couple of quid to help out Colly & Greg that would be awesome.


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Jon Gold

Jon Gold is a designer–engineer–researcher–musician making AI-augmented creative tooling at Airbnb & building weird things for that thing in the desert.