Rock Your HOW Interactive Design Conference Experience

The just-announced iPhone 5S. Adobe’s latest Creative Cloud tools for web design and development. Responsive techniques in website design. The latest creative trends web designers should know about.

How do you keep up with it all?

If you have a degree or formal training in web design or development, you’re half a step ahead. And if you’re among the many print designers adding web skills to their toolboxes, you know how steep the learning curve is, no matter how experienced you are.

Despite the excellent web design courses available at the university level, it’s still largely a self-taught, learn-by-doing discipline. The HOW Interactive Design Conference targets the group of designers who are doing just that: actively learning web design — on the job and on the fly…

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Heading to the HOW Interactive Design Conference in Chicago?

(Or thinking about it?) Here are some key things to be on the lookout for at the event to help you take your existing web design skills up a notch:

Pay attention to process. You already know that web design projects are inherently more complex than print projects. HOW ID can teach you how to wrangle all the players, the technologies, the development issues and the testing. Designer Stephanie O’Neil attended HOW ID in 2012, hoping to help her small print-focused agency get a better handle on web projects. “I went to the HOW Interactive conference to bring us up to speed, to get us on better footing when it comes to designing websites and to learn about managing the process in a better way,” she says in a video recap of last year’s event.

“Our biggest challenge when it comes to web design is the process: we approach it from a print direction. I learned to think about it in a different way, to think about the web as a different animal all together. We’re going to approach it differently by focusing on the content first and allowing form to follow function, to think about how a website works, not just how it looks.” In fact, the HOW ID 2013 program is designed to walk you through the interactive design process, start to finish.

Focus on content and story. Using interactive elements to tell a story; creating a rich environment for user engagement — designers play a much bigger role in web projects than in print ones. HOW ID speaker David Sherwin, interactive design director with the San Francisco office of frog design, will talk about content and story like a screenplay, with a plot, an outcome and action. Build your expertise by learning how (and why) to develop great content to underly your web design.

Stay on top of evolving technology. 2012 HOW ID speaker Jose Caballer surveyed the audience and found that the two biggest issues for web designers are “managing complex web projects, and keeping up with HTML5 and responsive design and other technologies.” In Chicago, you’ll get to test-drive web design tools, see the latest web fonts and learn about prototyping, user testing, data visualization, responsive design and other technologies.

Learn from a range of experts. Online training — and there are lots of great options, including HOW Design University — can help you build a focused skill. A conference, though, exposes you to a broader range of ideas, information and inspiration. At HOW ID, you’ll learn from experts in a range of disciplines, from data visualization to user experience to prototyping to programming. As one 2012 attendee remarked, “The varied experience and perspectives of the speakers provided a wealth of knowledge in multiple areas of interactive design. From overall philosophy to specific tools and tips, the conference inspired, informed, and at the same time made me realize how much I need to know … and how exciting that prospect is!”

Take advantage of the opportunity. Introduce yourself to speakers. Connect with other web designers you can learn from. Browse the sponsor exhibits and bring new technologies back to your colleagues. Bring a ton of business cards, and give them all away. Immerse yourself in the subject and enjoy the experience of talking shop with people who get what you do.

Keep a record. Bring a notebook (paper, digital, whatever). Use it. Write down phrases that catch your ear, that are helpful or inspiring. Snap photos of presentation slides that strike you. Sketch. “Take pictures constantly,” says veteran HOW Design Conference attendee and speaker Stefan Mumaw. “Record your thoughts. Be free and absorb.”

HIDC 2013Ready to build new web design skills? Register for the HOW Interactive Design Conference by Friday, September 13, and save $200!

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