Having attended the first day of @media, I have to say that already I will be booking my place for next year as soon as they’ll let me.
Sadly, I shouldn’t have bothered booking my place for this year. Not that what I have seen has been crap, far from it, I just am far too distracted by the small matter of the world cup.
Since ‘86 I’ve missed only a handful of games in each, and I’ll be damned if some conference is going to stop me, even if it cost me an arm and a leg.
First up was Eric Meyer, who gave an interesting keynote on how CSS has evolved over the last ten years. As Sissclioni said “it’s given me a new found respect for IE 5 on a Mac”. Quite. It’s funny how quick we are to forget how much that one browser did for CSS.
Good design vs Great design
The conference was split into two tracks, track one and track two, or if you’re me and Paul and have a very juvenile sense of humour, ‘trap’ one and ‘trap’ two. I spent most of my time in ‘trap’ one – apparently it was a tight squeeze in trap t… What???
As someone who ‘grew up’ a print designer, before switching to web through sheer chance (or rather getting sacked from Springett Associates), I found it a bit ‘my first design lecuture’.
Actually that sounds a bit harsh, but it didn’t really tell me anything that I didn’t learn in the first month of my first design course way back when, or that I already instinctively knew anyway (us creatives, we’re a breed apart see).
I have a lot of respect for the three protagonists, especially Jon who I wrote to when I was considering going alone. The guy must get hundreds of emails, but he actually took the time to reply, and I was very impressed by that.
All of them are clearly good designers, Veerle having a particular flair for the illustrative that I could never match.
Of course it is possible that the presentation was perhaps not aimed at me (not that it should have been), but I was expecting better things, more insights.
I suspect that the presentation was aimed at the likes of those who think that em is pronounced ‘eee-em’, rather than ‘em’ as in the letter ‘m’, i.e. non designers. If it was then it was right on the money.
Having said that, I do have to take issue with one thing that was said – more time equals better design. In my experience of observing other designers more time equals more time to climb into your own arse. Often with a fucking mood board.
Whilst there will always be a better design with a little more time, too much and the design starts to get worse. And this is true of designers I have seen across print and web.
Also, a truly great designer can work wonders in the shortest timespans. Michael Bierut of Pentagram told us years ago at ICOGRADA that he used to deliberately design a magazine in the time it took him to drink a crate of beer before needing a piss – that way he didn’t disappear up his own arse fiddling with things, and he made decisions quickly.
Similarly (or as similar as I am ever going to be to the likes of Bierut), whilst doing graphical communication at Sixth Form, we used to use up an odd period by having to come up with icons in five minute time frames.
The icons would be say for the dairy section at the supermarket, or to illustrate things for packaging. Nine out of ten times, the first idea you came up with would be the best one.
I should clarify all this by saying that visual design doesn’t get much better, but I think that interface design does. This is only because it allows you to be more iterative and do more testing to make sure it’s spot on.
But as a wise man once said, opinions are like arseholes. We’ve all got one. And some are more full of shit than others.
During this presentation, however, I lost a lot of respect for Jon Hicks. A lot.
Comic sans? Comic sans? COMIC SANS? Are you fucking kidding me? Comic? Sans? No. NO. NO. It’s never been, nor shall it ever be, an acceptable font choice. Ever. Period.
Comic sans, I ask you.
IE 7 and beyond
The last one presentation I saw before bunking off to see Equador Costa Rica (a great game btw), was Chris Wilson talking about IE 7.
I’ve never seen someone from Microsoft speak before, and I was expecting it to be a him vs us sort of atmosphere.
Aside from the ‘Rolf from the Muppets’ haircut, I thought he came across very very well. There was something about his presentation style that made you like him despite wanting to throw awkward questions at him at the end, which predictably people did.
I’ve not looked at much to do with IE 7, and for me personally, I found it interesting. He told us that they are working on the next two versions, and that IE 7 will ship sometime later this year.
However, I thought his chat about running standalone versions of IE was balls. I already run standalone versions of IE 3.1 through to 7 on my dev PC (using Skyzyx versions which have been pulled, but there is a tutorial here. He claimed doing it with the older browsers was impossible. Interesting.
So, that was the brief bit of the first day of @media that I saw before football intervened. I enjoyed it, and as I said, I will be definitely putting the readies aside for next year.
Even the food was nice – they had these roast vegetable sandwiches that tasted like Heinz Sandwich Spread. And I love sandwich spread.