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downunder and fashionably flexible

Andy ClarkeI invest my time and money pretty carefully.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a full day workshop in Sydney on responsive web design, presented by Web Directions and run by English designer Andy Clarke.

So was it just an indulgence or did I really get something out out of it?

I have basically three forms of professional development these days.

I still buy books that I can prop open around me, scribble notes in and spill coffee on. The more notes and coffee stains, the better the book. I buy e-books, as well.

I attend conferences that give me anything up to two or three dozen presentations on cutting edge topics by industry veterans, startup parvenus, academics and commentators. Key attractions are that I can focus on specific topics in digestible chunks, I can put them in context with each other across the whole conference, and I get to talk about all of that with my peers.

I also attend workshops.

All three cost significant money – including ancillary costs like postage, transport and accommodation – so I’ve learned to set myself an annual budget and pick and choose fairly carefully among the available options. When it’s an all day workshop in Sydney, I have to organise accommodation for the night before (or entrain myself at dawn: not going to happen, folks), so it had better be worth it.

Andy Clarke’s Downunder and Fashionably Flexible workshop was worth it. And how.

I won’t go through everything covered in this workshop. Suffice to say, this masterclass for 40 web professionals let us compare notes with one of our industry’s most articulate, informed and outspoken practitioners, who is himself grappling with all the implications as he works.

It was a godsend for anyone trying to understand how responsive web design relates to what we’ve come to understand about adaptive design, user-centred design, standards-based design and just good web design and development in general.

It was like being in a classroom with a really cool teacher and none of the rubbish that goes with the concept of ‘school’.

This is not about rock star web designers raking in the bucks on overseas tours (yes, some people do have that impression). This is about identifying with and learning from a skilled and experienced designer as he comes to grips with what responsive web design can do for him and his clients.

So this post is not meant just to applaud Andy Clarke (although I do – I find him totally inspirational), it’s meant more to encourage you to sign up to workshops with people like Andy Clarke whenever you get the chance and can afford it.

Even in the couple of weeks since that workshop, I’ve been able to apply what I learned on my own design and development projects. I definitely have a much better grip on what responsive web design means and I feel confident that I can present myself to potential clients as incorporating RWD principles into my work.

Ultimately, workshops like this are a form of professional development that helps my bottom line.

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