After 20+ years working in Web design, I got to attend my first “web design” conference. I’ve been to several conferences on varying topics over the years, but never one solely focused on the specifics of what I do as a designer. When I saw one was being held in New York City, I jumped up and down until I got my way and my company sent me.

What is Generate Conference?

Generate is a conference put on primarily by Media Temple and .Net Magazine by Creativebloq. Other sponsors include Shopify, Confwall, O’Reilly. Most of the sessions revolved around usability, performance and responsiveness. Although it’s interesting to note that we are trending towards moving away from “responsiveness”, which essentially is just a term for designing www for a browser keeping in mind different screen sizes. And moving toward or within the sphere of designing for a unified user experience across devices, be they mobile, smallish, browser-based, app-based, smart tvs or even screenless devices such as The Echo.

Generate Conference New YorkWhat I love about this conference (I mean other than being in New York, duh) is that the discussions were not fine art suppositions, but extremely practical. The idea foremost that design is a rendering of intent rather than self-expression. Love self-expression. Love art. Love making people think, but that isn’t web design. In Web design you generally don’t want to make people have to think (unless it’s a valuable interaction that steps toward an objective). This can be a formidable task, to be clever, creative, engage, provide high fidelity, fast and without obstacles to a goal. Yikes! But it’s an awesome challenge that inspires me most days.

So, I really do not like networking. We’ll see how the gratis happy hour thingy at Hudson Terrace rooftop goes, but I’ll likely wander around midtown Manhattan like a local if I can pull it off. Maybe take off my conference badge and lanyard. So far I’m just sipping a whiskey sour in a corner writing for my blog. What a nerd. And I’m down with that.

Conclusion of the Conference:

The conference was great. I learned a few tricks and processes that might help, but what I discovered most is that I am at a point in my career where it’s time to help the kiddos out. I ran into young people who were nervous, especially young women. Their insecurity and tentativeness was palpable. I kept finding myself in a position where I played mentor and encourager. That’s fine. That’s what I do anyways. It just wasn’t what I expected. I always expect to be the learner. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just that there’s a time to become the instructor in your field. I suppose after 20-some-odd years, it’s time. Cool.

I had a lovely time. Loved tooling around New York, getting to compare notes with others in my field, and mostly fine-tune the mission.

Until the next conference….

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