Hola Barcelona! Awwwards 2015

It’s been almost two months since the Awwards 2015 conference in Barcelona, but the experience is still fresh in my mind, as is the motto of the event: “Be inspired. Get creative”.

Awwwards is an annual event and prize ceremony for creativity and innovation of website design. The winner is chosen by an international jury of artists, businessmen and marketers. In the world of design, the Awwwards Conference can be compared to the Oscars. This year’s event focused on new trends in web design, internet topography and advanced programming techniques.

Design principles
The conference kicked off with an inspiring speech by Haraldurd “Halli” Thorleifsson, who started his presentation with the intriguing statement “Photoshop is like a fake world that we create for ourselves.” If we want to deliver good design, he recommends following a set of principles:
• Understand the problem
• Create your own wireframes
• Photoshop lies
• Only deal with decision makers

Web performance and responsive images

Another topic was responsive images. Bruce Lawson, web standard expert at Opera and a highly talented public speaker, talked about web performance and the meaning of responsive images. Check out his fairy tale “The Browser Fairy Queen and Elves”, which is available at brucelawson.github.io.

Stupid but useful side projects

The presentation given by Tobias van Schneider, chief graphic designer at Spotify, was also excellent. Tobias encourages side projects but at the same time acknowledges that they are “stupid because they have to be simple.” He shared his five principles for side projects:

  1. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)
  2. Ignore everybody
  3. Trust your gut
  4. Be a jack of all trades
  5. Stay busy

Despite being classified as “stupid”, many side projects are great for gaining useful experience. Not having a clear plan for an idea can pay off in the long run. Doing something just to make people laugh can also work as a good project goal. Tobias received the award Designer of the Year 2014.

Designing with Chrome DevTools
Paul Bakaus, who works for Google, shared some features that are coming to Chrome DevTools soon. The DevTools team, Paul explained, has been trying to be ahead of the game for some time without much success – until now. With the DevTools animations features, it looks like they have finally reached that point ahead of the trend curve. The animations panel is a great step forward and the audience both gasped and clapped their hands when shown some new features on the screen. Finally Paul revealed that the DevTools team has got themselves a designer, which is exciting news as we can expect DevTools to become more user friendly and get a better look and feel. The team will be focusing on keeping the interface more usable by making it more “SCRIM”:

  • Smart
  • Colourful
  • Responsive
  • Intuitive
  • Material

“The human body is the next computer interface”
The most fascinating presentation the second day was given by David Navarro and Claudio Guglieri. It started with a great mashup video of famous movies that give their take on or have influenced design interface. Claudio and David talked about how “responsive” ought to mean more than just adapting to different screen sizes. Interfaces should interact with human emotions through speech, vision and touch, and a recurring theme during the presentation was “the human body is the next computer interface.”

Day two of the conference was full of emotions and adrenaline due to the award ceremony. Once again, Hello Monday won the Agency of the Year category. Originally from Denmark, this agency has published fantastic projects this year, making them worthy recipients of this prize for the second consecutive year.

All in all, Awwards 2015 was a well organised event packed with interesting presentations and more inspiring people than anyone can handle. Definitely time to get creative!

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