Tony Training: Up Close and Personal

Tony Training: Up Close and Personal

Recently, Stanton Street flew me out to the “Windy City” to attend one of the design world’s biggest annual events, The HOW Design Live Conference. I attended a similar conference last year in Denver, but this year HOW had crammed all of their annual design conferences into one massive, week-long geek-a-thon.

Nerd was thick in the air as I boarded my Chicago bound flight. iPad and design books in hand, I set off for what would be a wonderful, inspiring adventure. It was my first time in Chicago (or a city of its magnitude for that matter), so you can only imagine the fear that plagued me during my 30 minute, 80mph, cab ride downtown. We have 2 staff members who spent mass amounts of time in Chi-Town so I figured I’d have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Crazy cabbies, crazy food, and lots of humidity were at the top of the list.

I reached my hotel room, dropped my bags, and headed to the conference. Shortly after reaching the event I had already started to feel the sense of understanding and belonging. Being surrounded by creatives is easy. We are all so open, talkative, and at times annoying. Needless to say, I made friends real quick.

The conference started off with a bang. First we were introduced to some great networking round-table type situations, which really helped me as a provider realize that the problems that we face with our projects is universal. Not only did I realize that we are tackling problems that everyone else in the industry is facing, but I was able to see just how many things we are doing right in our office, and share those experiences with others.

After the networking kick-off, a large group of us headed out on the town to explore some of the sites of the big city before ending up with some evening relaxation time on the pier. I’m not used to water and being on the lake made me realize three things – water is beautiful, the humidity it produces is not, and seagulls have to be the most annoying animals on this planet.

The following four days were a blur. HOW Design Live was a non-stop explosion of creative inspiration. My fingers couldn’t even type fast enough to keep up with all the information be thrown at us. Each session seemed more exciting then the last.

  • Some of my favorites were “The New Web Typography: Where the Sexy Is”. This session featured solutions to the age old problem of stale fonts on the internet. The web as we know it is at a very pivotal point, and making sites easier to read, navigate, and interact with is the main focus of concern.
  • Another great session was presented by the Threadless interactive guru Mig Reyes. Mig is a new, and powerful face in the design community. His session entitled “How the New Kids on the Block do it” touched on how some of the younger blood is shaping tomorrow’s design future. This session was incredibly relative as he spoke about the amazing products that can be created when younger creative individuals team up with more experienced staff to create innovative, and well planned solutions.
  • Among the ~20 sessions that I attended there were two that focused heavily on the future of mobile web design. One of which concentrated on the process of creating, and planning mobile applications for iPad, Android, and iPhone, while the other explained the step by step process used to create the Martha Stewart Living digital application. Let’s face it, mobile development is the future of the internet. And it was a pleasure as well as a big help to see how the companies who are leading the pack plan and execute their entire process.

Needless to say I had a heck of a time. Chicago was beautiful, and so was the experience I had there. The HOW Design Live Conference blew the pants off of any expectations I had for it. I came back winded, tired, and probably 20lbs heavier (those deep dish pizzas are no joke!).

Now it’s time to put all the knowledge I picked up on my adventure into play. During the closing keynote, Sally Hogshead (author of “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation”) ended by summarizing our jobs as creatives in one, simple, heart pulling sentence. “A designer’s job is to come up with creative ideas that make people fall in love.” Anyone on the creative side knows the passion that goes into each and every tiny work of art we produce. We love our work.

And now, it’s up to us to create products that you will love as well.

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