Awwwards – Love Days: Conference Paris 2014

Mario Šestak

UX designer

From February 12th till February 13th, 2014 we attended a conference in Paris appropriately named Love Days

This conference brought together some of the leading web designers and creative professionals of the digital world to discuss new ideas, trends and innovation in web design. Along with lectures and discussions, Love Days included an awards ceremony for best agency and best website.

Experimenting is crucial for quality

Jakob Kahlen, creative director at Hello Monday, who took home the award for best agency and best website, was one of the first to talk about their work. He explained how maintaining a playful and experimental attitude helps you discover limitless approaches and fresh ideas.

Hello monday also shared their pitch perfect recipe:

Fight! – Go all in and don’t be afraid to lose!
Cheat! – Think outside the brief!
Experiment! – You have to learn something from it!
Grow! – When you lose, get feedback & save your ideas for later!

User experience strategist and designer Stephanie Troeth emphasized the importance of staying an amateur. Amateurism is often viewed in a negative way, but in fact is an essential component in the work of all professionals whose aim is to explore and experiment, play with different things and in this way encourage their creativity. Be an amateur in the everything new that you are perpetually discovering. She reminded us how important it is to take a little precious time to reflect on the balance between the work that pays the bills and how we can keep ourselves fresh and creative — so that we continue to love what we do.

Jb Grasset, creative director of Ultranoir, talked about a frequent negative attitude we tend to have towards clients, deeming them incapable of creative thinking. They stressed the importance of good collaboration and communication which leads to successful solutions for both us and the clients.

When facing a stubborn client who will persistently ask for changes in the design, it is our responsibility to explain and conceptually show why the proposed solution is the best. This is why Ultranoir lists patience and education as its two key ingredients for successful collaboration.

Is creativity fighting with utility?

A hot topic during the conference was the rise of new technologies and ways in which many agencies and individuals mistakenly use them when designing a website. Specifically, they neglect the utility characteristics of web sites by putting too much emphasis on the presentation and distract users from the main goal – consumption of information and content. We mustn’t let websites become places packed with special effects whose only use is demonstrating the skills of creative developers, as was the case with the expansion of flash technology that back in the day, caused an excessive number of non usable websites.

They stressed the importance of getting rid of deep-rooted preconceived ideas concerning web design and shared three of the most common misconceptions:

  1. The burger effect (navigation icon); An assumption that users would be confused with a website introducing an icon they are already using daily on their smartphones and tablets. There´s nothing that supports the theory that a change of display environment would change users´s pattern of behaviour.
  2. 3 clicks to heaven; A common misbelief that dictates users should find everything they are looking for within 3 clicks or they will leave your website. It´s more important to offer quality content and a website that engages the user and encourages interaction.
  3. The fold; The need to fit every important bit of information inside the fold because it´s the first thing a user sees when he visits your website. It´s wrong to think users don´t scroll, especially if you consider the amount of scrolling while using smartphones. Of course, this doesn´t imply you should overdo it and make your website too long.

From an idea to a project

Christopher Murphy and Nicklas de León Persson from Web Standardistas, talked about an ideal process of coming up with ideas and concluded that there´s no such thing as more or less creative people, just that the ones considered creative have a better way (process) of generating ideas. They see an idea as nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.

They led us through Young’s Five Stages of a project:

  1. Gathering raw material – Without quality information it´s not possible to produce quality output, an idea.
  2. Mastication (the process of digesting food or, in this case, digesting an idea)- Coming up with a really good idea takes time. This is the stage in which we think and develop elaborate concepts.
  3. Drop everything and Walk Away – This phase calls for a step away from the problem. Murphy i De Leon explain this part using Sherlock Holmes and dr. Watson who are working hard on a tough case. Dr.Watson insists on working even more but Sherlock suggests the complete opposite, to go see a theater play, for example. Sherlock knows it´s the best way to let his subconscious do its work while he is preoccupied with something completely different.
  4. Out of nowhere an idea materializes – Aha moment we so frequently assign to divine inspiration is actually a product of previous steps and our subconscious.
  5. The morning after – Analyzing an idea and sharing the concept with others who help you finish it. If you realize the final concept doesn´t exactly fit the needs it was created for, the whole process starts anew.

The morning after – Analyzing an idea and sharing the concept with others who help you finish it. If you realize the final concept doesn´t exactly fit the needs it was created for, the whole process starts anew.

Love days left us inspired with ideas and a new desire for challenging projects that will develop us as people and as professionals. Enriched by this experience and exchange of thoughts with our colleagues, we are eager to adopt and apply these practices in our work.

We leave you with a quote from Scott Berkun:

If you want ideas, you have to start by breaking existing ideas down into smaller ones. Only then can you see how to build your own.

Author

Mario Šestak

UX designer

An expert traveler among designers that´s obsessed with UX. Known as an experienced problem solver, creative conundrum go to guy and an all around great fella.

All stories by Mario

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