Towards a better user experience
What moves web designers these days? To find an answer to this question, I visited the AWWWARDS conference in Amsterdam in January. Here, you can find both the lead designer of Ubuntu as the developer evangelist of Microsoft. Most presentations had something to do with enhancing the web experience and the ease of use of web applications, by learning from other designers, developers and users. Like the one by Josh Payton (user experience director at HUGE), who expressed that a whole project team is responsible for the user experience, including the prospective users. In other words, both 'users as designers' and vice versa: 'designers as users'.
One of the best presentations was the one by Greg Barth, I think: “Do it yourself design - taking risk.” He tries to stay young at work and told that for him, having fun is the key factor in doing so. As an art director/artist he creates wonderful videos, preferably analog. The following example shows that you can make an awardwinning video with a budget of only $ 200:
Web developers were also present at the conference. Chris Hellmann told an interesting story about the importance of speed for an application. In the Netherlands, we are used to having a speedy internet connection, but this is not the case in the rest of the world.
As an example, he gave a dating website with only 50.000 users. The plan was to ditch the project, although it did seem to have a large and growing number of visitors from India. The website was lean and mean, and super fast — one of the few websites that works fine when you are on a low bandwidth. Today, this website has more than two million users. This shows how important it can be to design and build from the user perspective.
The conference gave me a lot of energy to strive for better products, always keeping the user in mind. I will bring all the gathered tips, tricks & inspiration to the next projects within Waag.