It really was a school day. Ampersand Conference.

Friday felt like my first real step into web design. I’ve read more than once that text and typography are over 90% of the web, so a conference on the subject ‘Typography for the Web’ seemed a good place to start. Also the fact that I recognised the names of some of the speakers was a good sign.

The talks themselves were engaging, informative and, maybe most importantly, inspiring. It’s always a joy to hear somebody talk about something they are passionate about, particularly when it’s something you’re passionate about too.

My particular favourites were Jonathan Hoefler of Hoefler & Frere-Jones and Mark Boulton of Mark Boulton Designs.

Jonathon spoke primarily about the development of webfonts. I was particularly interested to hear about the process of designing fonts that need to be used in very small font sizes, both on paper and on screen, and the techniques used to make them more readable.

Mark’s talk was a little more philosophical, including references from ‘monk factories’ to container ships. The talk referred to the process of designing and how a ‘content out’ strategy is a good way to create effective, responsive design. From reading responses to the talk and the idea, it appears that this is a controversial concept, I suspect due to the difficulties of actually gaining access to the content whilst designing.

As well as the content packed talks, there were also many content packed conversations to be had. A brief hello to Mark Boulton, and longer chitchat with good folks over food, drinks and pool. I now have a list of books to read:

Just My Type – Simon Garfield

Design for Everyday Things – Don Norman

Adaptive Web Design – Aaron Gustafson

Don’t Make Me Think! – Steve Krug

5 Simple Steps – All

A Book Apart – All

(And always welcome more suggestions…)

My glimpse into a world of self-taught, independent thinkers who are keen to push their industry into the future head-first was exciting. I learnt and I gathered and now I’ll use that information to continue on my path – hopefully in the right direction.