Future Of Web Design 2011 –; The Review

Another great event from Carsonified, I really enjoyed Future Of Web Design this year.

The Cost

I was actually really lucky to get a ticket. I seriously couldn’t afford the £714 2-day conference pass, even at the super early bird rate (that was about £200 less, I can’t remember exactly.) My lovely friend Scott Coello had done the amazing motion graphics for the conference and very kindly gave me his spare ticket.

I think the price is actually a shame. Whilst there is no doubt that the FOWD and FOWA events are longer, with a better venue and far better food than most events, the price dictates a particular type of attendee. There seemed to be far more corporate and agency employees whose bosses can afford the mega £s. This seems to reflect in more attendees who are there because they’re told to be there, there’s less socialising, less enthusiasm and far more people working behind laptops than there have been at smaller, less expensive conferences I’ve attended over the last year or so.

The Talks

It was disappointing that there were talks that I’d seen versions of before. No doubt speakers vary and evolve their talks from one event to another, but I had seen a few of them at New Adventures back in January and the titles of their talks seemed similar so I ended up giving them a miss. I guess that’s the issue with living in a small country where speakers don’t have so far to tour!

Fortunately, the benefit of Future Of Web Design is the fantastic Track Two. Track Two features up-and-coming speakers who aren’t necessarily experienced at conferences but always bring fresh faces and ideas. It was on this Track Two that I first saw Aral Balkan speak last year (and it’s no surprise he was on the main track this year, he’s got presenting skills like nobody else.) This year I saw some great speakers including Ian Stewart, Ian Hamilton, Femi T Adesina and John McGarvey.

Running Themes

Whilst a wide breadth of topics is a great way to cover lots of areas in different talks, compared to other conferences such as dConstruct or New Adventures, which both had basic themes running throughout, FOWD felt a little disjointed and less cohesive. Some talks were high-level with conceptual themes whereas some were more hands-on instructional lectures.

This varied from feeling refreshing to jarring across the range of talks and I imagine this probably was a reflection on how comfortable I was with each subject. More ideas-based talks are informative and inspirational no matter how familiar you are with the topic as it’s always the fresh opinion of the presenter. On the other hand, I found talks that touched on actual code or ‘how to do this to be successful’ grew wearing when you feel like it’s something you already know.

The People

The more I go to conferences, the more I enjoy the company of the other attendees. As soon as you know a few people, it becomes much easier to be introduced to others and before long you feel like you know almost everybody. I think I’ve also gained confidence over the last couple of years, I’m happy to go and introduce myself to new people and this really makes a difference. Having people to discuss new ideas and socialise with in real life, rather than on Twitter, can be refreshing!

Will I go next year?

Unfortunately I don’t think I will. FOWD is a brilliant conference but the price is just too high. I can’t give up nearly the same amount that I pay myself for a month’s work on two days out where I’m earning no money.

I’ll definitely go to other conferences, and I’m all set for Ampersand next month, but I think I’ll keep £200 as my maximum ticket price per-day in future (well, until I’m making a fortune!)


  1. designjuju ('f.t.)

    Thanks for the great suggestion during my talk. It was great to have your input. Should we try to patent supersonic websites? or should we donate it to the community? :D

    • Donate to the community! That’s what the web is all about :)

Categorised under: Events, Reviews. Tagged with: attendees, conference, cost, FOWD, people, speakers, talks, themes.