Not long now until it’s time for Web Directions South again. It’ll be great to catch up again with old friends and make some new ones, but it’s the content of the WD sessions that makes this event indispensable for me and, as usual, this year’s line-up looks great.
As a solo freelancer working from home an hour and a half’s drive south of Sydney, Web Directions represents a significant and rare opportunity to extend my professional development, broadening my knowledge of what’s happening – and about to happen – in web design and development.
While I follow a lot of what’s creating discussion on the web itself, there is something very personalising about having someone tell it to you face to face, albeit alongside a few hundred other enthusiasts in a lecture theatre.
This year’s conference has a feast of speakers on web topics. You don’t need me to tell you about people like Douglas Crockford, Jeffrey Veen, Derek Featherstone, Jeff Croft, Mark Pesce or the others, local and international, that fill three streams of sessions over two days.
They have a perfectly fine website for that. It also tells you about the workshops preceding the conference, several of which are very tempting for me.
But I will say that one of the main reasons I continue to choose the Web Directions series of conferences and workshops as part of my professional development program is that they focus on standards. That alone sets them apart from the other conferences, training and skills development opportunities available to me.
Standards compliance is not merely a technical preference, it’s a profoundly philosophical stance with implications for how a web designer works. It really cuts to how designers as people see themselves in relation to the rest of the world and how they choose to act as a consequence.
At a day-to-day practical level, working to standards tends to equate with using common sense and thinking about the needs of others, two things my mother told me I should always do.
If she’d ever thought about forward compatibility, I’m sure she’d have been in favour of that, too.
As an example, I love that consideration for accessibility issues is not just a regularly featured topic at Web Directions but is pretty much a given that underpins and informs all the sessions.
If you’re a web designer or developer able to be in Sydney on 25-26 September, you should try to get to Web Directions. You’ll find it pays off.