atMedia: Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps

Paul Boag

I can’t say I was very excited about this session. However Jeffrey Veen is an excellent speaker. He is engaging, really knows his stuff and has a unique perspective that I warmed too.

My problem is that I am a little sick of web 2.0. It’s not that I mind the buzzword or even dislike the concepts behind it. It just isn’t very relevant to the majority of my clients. Most of the organisations I work with are still largely conveying text based information. They haven’t yet reached the point of seriously considering web applications and no amount of pressure on my side is going to change that. As a result I really didn’t expect to be very inspired by this session.

As it turned out, this was probably my most enjoyable session so far. Jeffrey Veen is an excellent speaker and presented a really unique view of how the web is changing. I am not even going to try and explain what he covered. You will just have to wait for the podcast to come out (which apparently will be happening) or download the slides. However what I will say is that he did a section on how front end interface design is changing and showed some real practical examples that really inspired me.

Although he didn’t tell me anything I wasn’t already aware of, he has made me realise that I haven’t yet made the mental shift necessary to really "get" web applications. Until I do, I cannot expect my clients to grasp the concept either.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. He showed a slide that contained some data on rainfall levels in different major American cities at different points of the year. He showed, how as a designer, we would format that data to make it more readable and easier to digest. However, he then took it further by turning that information into a mini application that allowed the user to see those cities plotted on a map and use a slider to see the map at specific times of the year. I would never have considered that approach and although I wasn’t convinced that this was the best way to display the data, it did make me realise that there are a lot more options available than I have been currently considering.

In short Jeffrey’s session has made me reconsider my perspective of web design. Good stuff.