WebDirections Conference goers

Program detail

September 25 and 26 will be 2 full days of in depth presentations across three tracks – design, development and management/strategy, as well as top notch opening and closing keynotes – from international and local experts with a broad range of real world expertise.

And then don’t forget our workshops on the 23rd and 24th as well.

Trying to convince someone you really need to go? Print our executive summary [PDF].





Opening keynote: New media – new business

Lynne D Johnson
Lynne D Johnson PortraitLynne will set the tone of the conference this year with insights into the future of media drawn from her wealth of experience in business, media and online communities as Senior Editor at Fast Company.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Closing keynote: This, That, and the Other Thing

Mark Pesce
Mark Pesce PortraitThis is what it feels like to be hyperconnected: a new kind of community – pervasive, continuous, yet strangely tense and tenuous, like a balloon inflated to the point of bursting. The limits of the neocortex meeting the amplifier of the Human Network. That creates unique opportunities: we can come together at a word, self-organize around or against a blog post, a live-streamed video, an automated reply from a faceless, rent-seeking organization. Nothing can stop us. We can’t even stop ourselves. But what do we want? And the other thing? You’ll need to be at Web Directions South, for the closing keynote, if you want to find out.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Designing our way through data

Jeffrey Veen
Jeffrey Veen PortraitThe hype around Web 2.0 continues to increase to the point of absurdity. We hear all about a rich web of data, but what can we learn from these trends to actually apply to our designs? You’ll take a tour through the past, present, and future of the web to answer these questions and more:

  • What can we learn from the rich history of data visualization to inform our designs today?
  • How can we do amazing work while battle the constant constraints we find ourselves up against?
  • How do we really incorporate users into our practice of user experience?

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Predicting the Past: Emotional Design and a Vision for Microsoft Surface

August de los Reyes
August de los Reyes PortraitA new inflection point in human-computer interaction is upon us. Along with other technologies, Microsoft Surface marks a departure from graphical user interface or GUI into the world of Natural User Interface or NUI. This talk begins with discussion of emotional design and its importance in the future of society. The lens shifts to how one design team is thinking about designing for a new era in which emotional intent and intuitive interaction are the imperative. Using theoretical models drawn from a mix of history, science, philosophy, and even video game design, this presentation reveals principles behind experience design for Microsoft Surface and beyond.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Creating sexy stylesheets

Jina Bolton
Jina Bolton PortraitBeing a CSS expert is about more than just memorizing selectors. It’s also about working to improve the maintainability and efficiency of your style sheets, planning for the future, and mastering your workflow. This session will look at pushing the limits of CSS to create stunning interfaces using clean, meaningful markup. We’ll also look at CSS 3 and at what the future of Web design could look like when CSS 3 finally becomes mainstream.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Elegant Web Typography

Jeff Croft
Jeff Croft PortraitEven in our day of web videos and podcasts, text is still the king of content on the web. Great typographic sensitivity is one of the hallmarks of sites that exude a professional confidence. From type sizing and coloring to leading, kerning, and measures to proper usage of quotes, dashes, and bullets, to choosing appropriate typefaces, this session will demonstrate using CSS and other modern web technologies to display type on screen with elegance and impact.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Sensing context in mobile design

Gabriel White

Gabriel White PortraitMainstream mobile devices are being loaded with sensors. These devices can be used to create experiences that are tailored, adaptive and responsive to the way people live and work. Location-awareness allows devices to respond to place, networked address books enable socially rich communication experiences, and motion and gestural sensors empower designers to respond to context of use. All these elements are creating a ‘sensitive ecosystem’; mobile devices that adapt gracefully to context and use.

This presentation will explore some of the design and technology trends that are shaping design for mobile devices, show examples of devices and services that are starting to take advantage of these trends, then explain how designers need to rethink design problems to take advantage of this technological ground-shift.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Accessibility beyond compliance

Derek Featherstone
Derek Featherstone PortraitNew technologies for web applications open up interactions to a highly sophisticated level. Learn how these new technologies can help designers move beyond simply complying with accessibility rules to create applications that work for everyone.

Integrating accessibility into design

Ruth Ellison

Ruth Ellison PortraitWhen developing websites or web applications, we often follow the principles of web standards, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and other accessibility guidelines. But is this enough? In this session, Ruth will look at how we can develop accessible web products by taking a holistic approach to web accessibility. She will look at different ways of incorporating accessibility into the design process to produce accessible and useful user experiences. This presentation will focus on the user experience design process by drawing on examples and learnings from Ruth’s work in Government.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Interaction design case studies

Daniel Burka
Daniel Burka PortraitUser interface design is an iterative process — the design of Digg and Pownce have been a study in evolution and adaptation. This talk will inspect the why and how of these iterations by looking at specific case studies from the two projects as well as previous client work Daniel has tackled.

The case studies will examine specific user interface challenges that have arisen and will chop them up into their various bits. How do I identify a challenge? What is the best approach for getting started? How do I solve the problem conceptually and technically? How will I know if I solved the challenge successfully? Case studies have been selected that are especially pertinent outside of their specific contexts to help you in your everyday UI design.

The presentation will focus on design inspiration, decision-making processes, technical solutions, and learning from missteps as part of a designer’s iterative process.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

From disordered to managed usability in an Agile environment

Teale Shapcott
Teale Shapcott PortraitUsability practice closely resembles the traditional software development approach in its formality and insistence on up-front analysis and design. Usability and design is an iterative process, but not agile. So how can design and usability be effectively embedded into an agile development environment? In this presentation, the tension between agile development and usability is examined and how Suncorp design and development teams overcame the challenges to bridge the gulf between these approaches.

Ajax security

Douglas Crockford
Douglas Crockford PortraitSecurity design is an important, but often neglected, component of system design. In this session, Douglas Crockford, creator of Javascript Object Notation, will outline the security issues that must be considered in the architecture of Ajax applications.
The design of the browser did not anticipate the needs of multiparty applications. The browser’s security model frustrates useful activities and allows some very dangerous activities. This talk will look at the small set of options before us that will determine the future of the Web.
During this session, attendees will:

  • Learn why effective security is an inherent feature of good design;
  • Experience a real-time demo of a Ajax client/server system based on sound security principles
  • See how to apply secure design to rich web applications.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Javascript libraries – Putting the cross in cross-browser compatible

Craig Sharkie, with Earle Castledine, Ben Askins, Jason Crane and Cameron Adams
Craig Sharkie PortraitNo longer are search engines the main contenders when you’re shopping for JavaScript solutions. For sophisticated, cross-browser effects which degrade gracefully and don’t impede accessibility, libraries are the new heavy weights. But which library do you want in your corner?
The crop of polished, opensource libraries bring a vast array of visual effects and functionality to leverage in your projects and we’ll introduce you to the power houses. We’ll run jQuery, the YUI, and Prototype up against pure Javascript in a tag team event that will challenge even the hardiest code warriors.
In this special 2 hour session local and international developers will run libraries through their paces giving you real world insights in to how a library can help you knockout the toughest scripting challenge.

Choosing the right web application framework

Lucas Chan
Lucas Chan PortraitThe new era of web applications has introduced to us a number of frameworks designed to aid in rapid development. But, no matter what your preferred language, finding a suitable framework is not usually an easy task.
In this intensive 2 hour session you’ll hear from several developers who’ll discuss which frameworks they chose, why they love them; why they hate them, and gain valuable insights to help you choose the right tools for your job. We will focus primarily on Rails (Ruby), Joomla! (PHP), Struts/Spring (Java) and Django (Python).
Expect to hear discussion ranging from framework features & tools, development speed, source management, bug tracking, collaboration, interoperability, performance, scalability and deployment, as well as recommendations on how to hit the ground running.

Web APIs, Oauth and OpenID: A developer’s guide

Myles Eftos
Myles Eftos PortraitOnline web applications are big business, with many people relying on the cloud for data storage and workflow. These days, an API is an essential part of any online system, but this presents authentication and authorisation issues for the humble web developer. Learn how to create Web APIs, how OpenID and Oauth works and what you need to do to implement them.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

A Jungle Cruise through the Wild Regions of HTML5 and Surrounding Territories

Michael(tm) Smith
Michael(tm) Smith  PortraitYou’re invited to join a narrated exploration into the exotic regions of HTML5 and surrounding territories. Your journey will begin with a preparatory briefing about what to expect from HTML5 – what’s different, what’s new, what to look forward to, what to watch out for. During the cruise, we’ll make some short excursions into surrounding territories adjoining HTML5, and you’ll learn a bit about their history and relationship to HTML5.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Developing for iPhone

Tim Lucas and Peter Ottery
Tim Lucas Portrait Peter Ottery PortraitThe release of Apple’s iPhone brings new opportunities for web sites and web apps on handheld devices, though not without its share of challenges and best practices.

Tim and Pete will look at the best examples out in the wild and share their experience creating iphone.news.com.au – one of Australia’s largest news sites, news.com.au, tailored to the iPhone.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Start Using Web Vector Graphics Today

Dmitry Baranovskiy
Dmitry Baranovskiy  PortraitWith the growth of interactivity in web applications we are pushing Javascript to its limits, not to mention the limits of HTML and CSS. And so we spend our days resorting to Flash, waiting for that distant time when browser support for CSS3 will come to our rescue and allow us to create the UIs we dream of. But this is not the way it has to be: there is a little known secret weapon right here in most modern browsers. Yes, even in IE6.

Dmitry Baranovskiy is here to tell you about Canvas, SVG and VML. Come along and be amazed by standards based UI wizardry you can start implementing in projects right here, right now.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Where’s the money? The business of being social

Laurel Papworth
Laurel Paprworth PortraitIt’s not true that there are no proven monetisation models for online communities; in fact, there are distinct revenue streams that have been successful over many years. This session looks at the soft returns on investment for engaging with user generated content, communication and collaboration with the consumer and then moves into how social networks earn money for their investors and developers.

The aim of this session is to limit the slapping of banner ads on every niche community online – you might be surprised to learn that the least profitable revenue model is… Advertising! Come, spend an hour on the Dark Side, and find out which social networks are making money, how much and by what means and learn about the business models in this growth industry.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Semantic web for distributed social networks

David Peterson
David Peterson Portrait/Hear how Drupal, Semantic MediaWiki and other bleeding edge tech were enlisted along with pixie dust, FOAF, RDF, OWL, SPARQL, Linked Data (basically all the Semantic Web stuff) to build a distributed social network. The focus will be not on evangelism (I don’t really care about that) but how disparate open source platforms can talk and work together. This stuff actually works and makes development more fluid. These technologies make local development easier, but when it is time to broaden your scope, classic search is still king. How can you leverage this? Newcomers such as Yahoo Searchmonkey can play an important role in the creation of a truly distributed information system.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Custom V CMS – don’t take sides

Diana Mounter
Diana Mounter PortraitWhen I was introduced into the role of managing web projects, I naively believed a Content Management System would solve all my problems. Growing my little empire of content authors I had little idea of what was to come- before I knew it I had created a monster.

I went searching for a white knight to slay this monster and was tempted by the delights of custom builds, agile development, and ruby on rails. And off I went following the trail of breadcrumbs into the forest eating them as I went, but then oh, how do I get back to my old friend CMS? Hmmm.
This session will help you know how to make the choice between the sweet delights of custom builds and the faithful workhorse CMS. How to get them to play nice, grow gracefully, and present together as a seamless front-end user experience.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Starting and running a successful web development business

Kay Smoljak
Kay Smoljak PortraitWorking for yourself is a dream that many web designers and developers have. You can pick and choose your clients, work in your pajamas, and sleep in until 10am every day if you want to. But there’s a more serious side to starting a business, and lots of factors to consider if you decide to head out on your own. Kay will share the story of Clever Starfish’s journey from a seed of an idea to a thriving small business, with lots of handy hints for both things to do, and things not to do, along the way.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Informing experience architecture with quantitative insights

Hurol Inan
Hurol Inan PortraitQuantitative insights gathered through online analytics can contribute greatly to the design and optimisation of online experience architectures.

Analytical techniques can be used to understand

  • Who is really using the site
  • What they are using it for
  • How well the site responds
  • What needs changing to enhance the experience

These insights not only provide you with behavioural profiles of users for consideration throughout the design process but also can help you make important decisions on content classification, labelling, page layout and interaction design.

During the design process, you don’t need to rule out all design options to reach a single solution. Through multivariate testing (MVT), it is possible to test various options real time (and with real users) to find the optimal solution.

The success of an Experience Architect depends on the business impact of their architecture. Quantitative techniques can be used in benchmarking before and after performances of a website demonstrating the impact of the new architecture.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Strategies for social media engagement

Grant Young
Grant Young PortraitWith so many social networks blooming, all with different participants and methods of interaction, it can be hard to determine where to invest your energy, time and $$.

The session will provide ideas and a “background briefing” to help you answer the question:

  • why is social media important to my organisation?
  • what is the ROI for social media?
  • how can I evaluate which approaches are right for me/my organisation?
  • what sort of activities can/should I undertake in these spaces?

This is not a technical session and although we will briefly touch on some popular sites, the focus will be on how you and your organisation can effectively and authentically engage participants in the social media world.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

Internationalization – a guide to dealing with the web’s favorite twenty letter word

Myles Byrne
Myles Byrne PortraitSo, you’ve decided to tap into a whole new world of business oppportunities by stepping outside the anglocentric world. That’s great! But the process of internationalisaton can be a genuine minefield for the unitiated, so take a few tips from someone who’s been there before. In this talk Myles will cover what internationalization is, when to do it, and how to implement it. Topics include: localization, organising your content for translation, finding and managing translators, and dealing with the unexpected technical issues that inevitably arise.

See the slides and hear the podcast.

The evolution and commercialisation of online video

Nick Bolton

Nick Bolton PortraitInternet video has come a long way from the postage stamp generic media player to the commercial success it is today.

This session looks at this journey, and examines the multitude of online video options available. We will look at content creation (simple single piece, to multi-platform, and user generated), distribution methods and publishing strategies.

Then once the video is published, how do you justify it (the ROI), commercialise it (leverage the content) and monetise it through syndication, advertising, sponsorship, or pay-per-view/subscription. There will be real time demos and case studies.

See the slides and hear the podcast.