WebstockI’m exhausted.

What a great two days – I was overwhelmed by many web aficionados who passionately presented a myriad of topics: from the history of Open Source, to becoming “Unstuck” to “Managing Design” to “Web 2.Odium”…and more. At the end of the first day I was having difficulty remembering all the speakers I had seen.

The big out-take of the two day event was that we can all have different ideas of what the web should be, and how the web should behave, and that none of those ideas are right and none of those ideas are wrong.

For the proponent of web standards there is always someone with an equally valid argument that web standards are wrong (or that they don’t exist even).

And so we all need to learn to make websites that serve the audience…this should be our mantra (and it is at Click Suite ). Who is the audience? What do they want to get from this website? How can they interact with this website that will give them the best experience possible (based on their expectations)?

Some websites need to be text based and easily searchable and scalable and non-hierarchical; other websites can have graphics (or god forbid, Flash) and be immersive and experimental. It all depends on your intention and the audience requirements. It’s quite simple.

Some highlights:

  • Fireside chat with Sam Morgan – he was candid, and funny, and engaging, and appeared to have not let the trappings of wealth turn him into a horrible person…
  • Damian Conway – a mad Australian with a very wicked sense of humour, and a attractive wife (you had to be there). He spoke on Web 2.Odium in a delivery filled with irony…it was very entertaining…
  • Michael Lopp on managing design, from the perspective of Apple . Of course, Click Suite is not on the same scale of Apple, and Michael’s projects extend over years rather than months (or weeks) but some of his thinking could be translated into a smaller business model…I particularly liked his idea of “The Pony Meeting” – more on that perhaps at a later date…
  • Tom Coates on ‘Designing for a Web of Data’ – I found his insights into the wealth and value of creating and capturing as much data as possible very interesting…
  • Russell Brown from Public Address and Hard News fame – talking on the value of content, and immediacy, and ending with some interesting insights into the placement of online banners…
  • Peter Morville , an ex librarian who as an Information Designer made a living helping improve the navigation and interaction of websites but is now more interested in the ability to find that information. There’s no point having a website if it, and the information on it, can’t be found, and this is too often ignored…

Some not-so-big highlights:

  • Kelly Goto , who gave us a psychotherapy session on how to get ‘unstuck’ – I had high expectations but was ultimately underwhelmed. Surprisingly though, I went to her website and found an amazing repository of resources and links, so all was not lost
  • Jason Santa Maria , who gave us a lament on why design for the web doesn’t reflect the telling of stories, and how it should. His storytelling examples he used were all print based, and the web example he was most excited about was a series of photographs (www.noonebelongsheremorethanyou.com ). I couldn’t help thinking if the author had built a more traditional site she would have exposed herself to search engines and meta tagging and quite possibly have generated more revenue…

But, I don’t want to end on a downer. The value I got out of it was that it made me think, and reflect, and question why we do what we do in the manner in which we do it.

It’s all good fun. And it is so worthwhile.

A big, big thank you to the Webstock team for making it happen.

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