We like to stay on the cutting edge of . . . well . . . everything here at Launch, so we sent Art Director Reuben Miller to this year’s HOW Conference to learn everything he could about technology and design. From printing to design programs to sources of inspiration, Reuben absorbed it all and, fortunately for us, shared his knowledge.
The first session attended was “Inspiration: You Are What You Keep” by Gail Anderson—creative director of design at SpotCo. Her main message was that when we’re young, we gravitate toward certain things, and as we get older, we begin to identify what those things are and use them for inspiration. Those different sources of inspiration make individual designers unique.
Next up, “Print to Web Breakthrough,” was delivered by Mark O’Brien, president of Newfangled Web Developers. Reuben learned a few tricks to make websites more crawlable. For starters, keeping a 300 to 500 word digital newsletter that gets updated once a month is a good way to keep Google bots interested in your site. This will keep your domain high on the Google search list. O’Brien also told attendees of a new web service that allows designers to use non-website-compatible fonts. This service serves up fonts every time a page loads, so that designers can choose any font when creating a website. This allows people to take their favorite fonts online and differentiate their site from others’.
In “Good vs. Great Design”, speaker Cameron Moll, co-author of CSS Mastery and author of Mobile Web Design, pointed out that most people use the word “inspiration” incorrectly. What they really mean is “influence.” An influence is something that affects your ideas, whereas inspiration is the product of your creative thinking and work. Inspiration is something that is earned, while influences can be found anywhere. In the end, the best designs come from turning the things we love, our influences, into something that others can find value in. Moll stated that most of us are starters – we have tons of great ideas, but that’s where they end. Those ideas never reach fruition because most people aren’t finishers. An inhibitor to becoming a finisher is stress, but there is also good stress, which Moll termed “eustress.” Eustress comes from activities that push us in an enjoyable way, such as working out. Last, but not least, Moll touched on the “blur test” in relation to digital hierarchy. As taught in design school, when you look at a design and blur your eyes, you’ll be able to see what jumps out the most. With print, and especially digital, creating a hierarchy is the art of managing, not eliminating elements.
Reuben’s last seminar, “Creating Five-Alarm Concepts,” earned his coveted “bad ass” designation. Speaker Von Glitschka has all of his slides and notes available for download, so instead of a short Reuben recap, feel free to download it all for yourself.
We’ll get back to you soon with more wisdom from the speakers, but until then, please tell us your favorite takeaways from this year’s How Conference.