At times, designing can feel like a long road going too many possible directions. Fortunately, events like Awwwards San Francisco’s Digital Thinkers Conference (May 10-11, 2018) bring designers together to find solutions, share insight, and remember that all roads can ultimately lead to good design. Distillery Senior UI Designer Luciana Flora, who attended the conference, says that it “exceeded her expectations,” leaving her feeling “refreshed and inspired to achieve greater things” in her own work.
Held in the breathtaking Palace of Fine Arts, the conference featured two days of insightful, inspirational talks from global design community luminaries. Design leaders from companies such as Facebook, Adobe, Netflix, Nike, Dropbox, Airbnb, and Bēhance shared perspectives on topics such as using design to connect with users, making effective use of design technology, making the best use of your creativity, dealing with difficult clients, the state of the industry, and the Dos and Don’ts of building a startup. Many leaders shared stories about their career journeys or personal experiences. Luciana’s favorite talks included those by Fantasy Interactive Head of Product Peter Smart, who focused his talk on goals, doing what you want in life, and finding happiness in your career; and Draplin Design Company visionary Aaron James Draplin, who talked about the value of exploring unexplored places and the idea that anything can be an excuse to design.
Between talks, conference participants enjoyed regularly scheduled coffee and meal breaks that let them stretch their legs and network with peers. The conference culminated with an oceanfront after-party held at The General’s Residence at Fort Mason. The party provided another welcome opportunity to share experiences with designers from across the globe.
Luciana took away several key messages from the conference, including:
- The central importance of research, testing, and iteration for creating strong designs. Speakers from several organizations discussed how performing research, conducting testing, and working in Agile sprints enable them to apply and test different solutions and come up with better designs.
- How to embrace the inherent value of making “mistakes” during a design process. Says Luciana, “Finding mistakes later on is much more expensive than making mistakes throughout the process.”
- How important it is to learn to “let go” at the right time. She explains, “Design is never really done. It’s never going to be perfect. Designers have this habit of wanting to be perfect, but it’s just never going to be perfect.”
- Why people should always be placed above process. No matter the design situation, users’ needs are paramount.
- How crucial it is to think from all perspectives during a project. The essential message was that “the way to succeed in working for a company is to have everyone caring about the product as a whole — not just about your part.”
Luciana was also impressed by the clear level of interconnection between participants. “Everyone kind of knows everyone,” explains Luciana, “and is connected in an authentic way.” The palpable sense of community gave Luciana and the other conference participants reassurance that designers everywhere face the same challenges and share the same frustrations — and that there’s always a way forward that can still lead to a great design.
Want to learn more about how Distillery’s design team embraces insight and expertise from the global design community? Let us know!