Nottingham's world-renowned conference for digital practitioners.
|This page is a work in progress|
|Skills||Event management and curation, community building, brand and identity, UX and UI design, front-end, information architecture, CMS, print design, digital marketing|
I have immense admiration for Simon & Geri as practitioners in their own rights, but something I believe goes unnoticed is their truly immense ability to curate a conference — after a full day of talks you leave with clear, powerful and resounding themes. This isn't luck, this is the combination of effort, care and an eye for bringing together voices into poignant themes that need to be heard.
New Adventures is a platform for design-minded digital practitioners that demand a more innovative, inclusive and ethical digital future. We began with a trilogy of events between 2011–2013 and many considered NA the best event they'd attended, voting us Event of the Year, twice. We returned in 2019 for what might've been a one-off reunion, but attendees asked for more and, with much to work through together, we think that's the right call.
Our speakers become part of each carefully-curated narrative. We've attracted world-renowned speakers, including Ethan Marcotte, Jessica Hische, Jason Santa Maria, Wayne Hemingway, Dan Mall, Frank Chimero, Veerle Pieters, and Denise Jacobs — and many newer voices.
What happens in the hall spreads far and wide, kickstarting new thinking. Our audience grows more diverse each year, attendees representing a broad mix of professions.
By holding our events in the Midlands, we give many their first chance to attend a big conference without the expense of a few days in London or Brighton. Attendees came from far and wide: from across Europe but also the US & Canada and even Australia.
We pour lots of energy into the NA community. We organise Fringe events and work hard to ensure everyone feels welcome. We run a Scholarship programme and have invited over sixty applicants. The positivity of the community is also evident online, and we're proud to have fostered such an inclusive, progressive, and friendly community.
Our return event had a distinct identity, achieving lots with a little. The fledgeling design system consisted of a grid, two typefaces (Aperçu Medium for display, Source Sans for body), two colours (blue, and pink), one grey, almost black, and white. With that kit, we made everything we needed, including graphic elements such as multi-line patterns, solid blocks and playful tints for unifying images.
I did around 10% of the design with pencil and paper, another 40% with Sketch, and the remaining 50% I found in the browser. I think CSS is one of the very best design exploration tools, and I've always enjoyed taking a rough idea into the browser and then spending however long it takes to explore and refine all possibilities in code.
I enjoy throwing the components around, squinting at the screen a lot, and trying to find balance and harmony across the experience. The 2020 edition branches off with five critical colours for the year, but the system still carries most of the work and much remains the same.
We produce a magazine for attendees packed with opinion, articles and interviews. The mag also contains conference schedules, profiles, topics, plus ads and messages from sponsors. We've worked with illustrators including The Heads of State, Alex Fowkes and Geri Coady.
Many attendees take further copies back to their places of work, but they’re too good to be enjoyed by only 650 attendees and their friends, so we launch a free download on conference day. The publication ends up on coffee tables and digital rectangles all around the world, and we often receive photos of cherished printed copies.
Designing for inclusivity
We strive to produce the most thoughtful conference experience possible, and our customisable name badges reflect that commitment. Our badges feature space for our specially-designed stickers, so attendees can specify pronouns and alert others if they have preferences about conversation and photography.
The simple New Adventures system informs the design and tone of all related communications. Newsletters feel visually connected to that year's branding and website but should feel more like letters; perhaps traditional communiques on headed paper.
The design complements the medium, delivering content directly and efficiently. The work encompasses copywriting, visual design and layout, MailChimp setup and integration, HTML, CSS customisation, testing and debugging.
We ensure that material produced for download and sharing also feels connected. Here, we use formal print grids to support a dense delivery of information.
We proof all documents before deployment, and simple online surveys lets us gather swift feedback. The work encompasses copywriting, visual design and layout, InDesign implementation, PDF output and minification.
Consistency across platforms
Communication design has to be consistent for each event, and an organised system makes social media management much more straightforward. We have a shared, version-controlled folder of assets and straightforward guidelines.
We can confidently extend the aesthetic into image production using simple templates for Photoshop, Affinity Photo and Sketch. Investing in good photography is also essential. Presentation slides rely on simple Master slides that lean on these guidelines.
We can never be quite sure what we'll make for each event, so it pays to ensure every aspect of our brand and identity is flexible and quickly rolled out in unexpected ways.
Alongside the standard pins and stickers and display banners, we might end up designing a coffee bottle, as we did when collaborating with Outpost Coffee Roasters on a (deliciously fruity) custom conference roast.